You're Probably More Dehydrated In The Winter — A Functional MD Explains Why
As a general rule, the more you sweat, the more you need to hydrate—the issue is sweat has become this psychological marker of Oh, it's time to drink water! and since people tend to sweat more during warmer months, you might unconsciously focus on hydration during the summer.
Here's the thing, though: "Winter is just as dehydrating as summer," says Dana Cohen, M.D., integrative medicine physician and co-author of Quench, on the mindbodygreen podcast. "I actually believe that people are more dehydrated in the winter."
Why you might be more dehydrated in the winter.
We should note that, yes, it's still important to hydrate during the summer. But let's revisit that psychological marker we referenced above: Because you might associate sweat with needing to drink more water, in the winter (when you typically don't sweat as much), the urge to drink may get put on the back burner.
However, just because you might not be sweating as much doesn't mean you aren't losing fluids. As Cohen explains, dehydration takes a different route during winter: "It's not because you're outside and sweating so much; it's that indoor environment in the winter we don't take into account."
See, there's less humidity (aka, water in the air) during the winter. And when you crank up the heat in your home, it creates an environment that literally sucks the moisture out of your body. It's the same as the logic of why your skin loses more water in the winter (a process called transepidermal water loss1). Ever wake up with a dry, scratchy throat or chapped lips? Yep, that's your arid environment doing its thing.
How to rehydrate in the winter.
You can always, you know, drink more water. The exact number of glasses actually differs for everyone, says Cohen, so it's important for you to find your personal benchmark—she does mention that half your weight in ounces of water is a good place to start, but, again, that can change if you follow a more dehydrating diet or exercise often.
Winter is also a great time to hydrate with food—think soups and warm drinks. "I eat more soups, more hot teas in the winter," Cohen notes. Fill your soups with hydrating veggies (like greens, which have tons of fiber), and sip on a hot tea after your meals—chances are you'll feel aptly hydrated. Plus, those comforting elixirs can warm you up, too. Win-win.
You can become dehydrated any month out of the year, but Cohen says it's time we pay closer attention to hydration levels during winter. Just remember that even if you aren't sweating buckets, that doesn't mean you aren't losing water to the air, so make sure to get your liquids in.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.