I tell all of my clients to drink a 16-ounce glass of room temperature water when you wake up every morning. Keep it next to you on your nightstand. Drink up within the first 10 minutes of consciousness.

Why?

Most people I know don’t drink enough water. By starting off your day with two cups (16 ounces) of water, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of right hydration. Staying hydrated is essential to a healthy body and mind. More than half the human body is water. As babies, we start out being around 75 percent water, and by the time we reach our golden years, that falls to around 55 percent.

The Power of Hydration

Water is good for you in so many ways. Here is a sampling of the importance of proper hydration:

  • Eases headaches. Did you know that 85 percent of migraines are caused by dehydration? It makes sense when you realize that your brain is 73 percent water. Not getting enough water can trigger headaches and migraines, according to British researchers from Loughborough University and the City of London Migraine Clinic. The Migraine Clinic also found that you can get headache relief in as little as thirty minutes from drinking a glass of water (taking a couple­ of painkillers takes about 45 minutes).
  • Protects your heart. When you are dehydrated, your blood thickens, which puts more demands on your heart because it has to work harder pumping dehydrated blood through your veins. Getting in the habit of starting off your day with water will help ease the demands on your heart.
  • Balances body temperature. Being properly hydrated is central to how your body maintains a safe temperature. The human body regulates its temperature by sweating (loss of water and salt) when you heat up, because of the outside temperature or your activity level. When you are highly active and sweating, your body can lose over eight cups of water in one hour. Having your morning water will jump­start your hydration.
  • Improves thinking. When you drink water, it increases your alertness, according to British researchers from the University of Bristol. In another study, Ohio University researchers found that dehydration diminished alertness, decreased the ability to concentrate, and reduced short-term memory. Starting your day by hydrating will turn on your brain so you can make better decisions all day long.
  • Keeps kidneys healthy. Proper water consumption is essential to healthy kidneys, and proper kidney function allows your body to rid itself of waste. By having 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning, you’ll help your body start off with enough fluid to feed your kidneys.

How Much Water Should You Drink a Day?

It used to be easy enough to follow the old eight-glasses-of-water-a-day rule, but fresh research has revealed that it isn’t that simple. Older studies that established this rule didn’t take into account other beverages or foods that contribute to hydration. Coffee, tea, and other drinks have water in them, and the foods we eat also have some water in them, making up around 22 percent of the water you get in a day. Plus, you have to take your activity level into account—the more you exercise or sweat, the more fluids you need to replace.

Thanks to these new findings, the answer about how much you really need to drink per day is still floating around. That said, I have a simple formula that seems to work pretty well. Divide your weight in half and drink that amount in ounces each day. So if you weigh 160 pounds, you need 80 ounces of water per day or eight glasses of water. To account for activity, add five ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise or activity (anything from gardening to cleaning to shoveling snow, etc.).

Also, don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink. When your mouth is dry and you feel thirsty, you are 30 minutes too late! Start checking in with yourself throughout your day and rating how well you are hydrating on a scale from 1 to 10.

Click here to buy Joel Harper’s book, Mind Your Body: 4 Weeks to a Leaner, Healthier Life.