Habits We Love

The Science of Staying Hydrated (and How to Be Better at It)

8 min read
Learn about the science of staying hydrated and how to really drink more water.
Learn about the science of staying hydrated and how to really drink more water.

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It's time we got a little friendlier with H2O, don't you think? Most of us know, after all, that we're primarily made of water—to be precise, it makes up roughly 60% of our body weight. That means that every cell, tissue, and organ count on it to function properly.

But if we're well aware of the importance of water, why does staying hydrated feel like a chore for so many of us, especially when it's one of the simplest yet crucial things we can do for our health on a daily basis? Here at Ritual HQ, we believe that the foundation of any positive habit is understanding the science behind it—so let's start with some fact-checking around hydration, shall we?


We should all stick to the “8 cups a day” rule.


“Rule” is a tough word, because we’re all unique—as are our activity levels, home climates, and daily routines. Our bodies loses water constantly for a variety of different reasons. (Sweating, going to the bathroom, and even breathing are the top culprits.) Some of us work out on the reg; some of us are natural-born “sweaters.” Our water needs on a 90-degree day look different than they do on a 60-degree day.

In fact, the latest US Dietary Guidelines no longer recommend a specific amount to shoot for—instead, they just advise drinking plain water in general (rather than trying to up your fluid intake with sugary drinks).


The only way to meet our daily water needs is by…uh, drinking water.


To the contrary, scientists actually estimate that we get 20-30% of our daily fluid intake from foods. Bonus points if you aim for fresh fruits and vegetables with a high water content: Cucumber, watermelon, celery, and strawberries are all solid options. (1)


There's no way of knowing that you're hydrating enough—you just kind of have to wing it.


Here's a fun fact: Your body actually has a cool signal that you’re getting enough H2O. Australian researchers recently made a connection between water intake and swallowing—specifically, that when your body has gotten its fill of H2O, it might feel a lot more difficult to swallow. To that point, it is possible to over-hydrate, so be wary not to go overboard. (2)

The takeaway: Listen to your body and just aim to drink water regularly throughout the day.

Pay special attention if you’ve been working out, breaking a sweat in general, and/or if it’s hot outside. Struggling to make your water intake a habit? Keep scrolling for our favorite pointers on getting your fill.

Make it a habit

  1. Invest in a reusable water bottle (or two). In addition to being planet-friendly, it’s a visual reminder to stay hydrated. (We recommend parking one on your desk at work.)
  2. Try a straw. Drinking through a straw is actually more efficient, because the straw creates a vacuum—meaning we tend to take larger sips with a straw than without. (Just make sure you do our planet a solid and opt for a reusable straw made from glass or stainless steel.)
  3. Make it less boring. Spa water—ever heard of it? It’s pretty simple: Add cucumber slices or berries to infuse a little flavor.
  4. There’s an app for that. There are actually a few—we like Daily Water Tracker Reminder, Plant Nanny, and Aqualert, which are all free.


  1. Guelinckx, I., Tavoularis, G., König, J., Morin, C., Gharbi, H., & Gandy, J. (2016). Contribution of Water from Food and Fluids to Total Water Intake: Analysis of a French and UK Population Surveys. Nutrients, 8(10), 630.
  2. Pascal Saker, Michael J. Farrell, Gary F. Egan, Michael J. McKinley, Derek A. Denton. Swallowing inhibition emerges from overdrinking. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2016, 201613929.


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