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You Can Probably Stop Stressing About Whether You’re Drinking Enough Water

That whole eight glasses of water thing is a myth. New recommendations are saying that you need way less—and it doesn't have to be in the form of pure H2O.

by Hilary Pollack
Jul 28 2015, 4:15pm

Foto von klearchos via Flickr

Over the years, we've all heard from doctors, health experts, and even just our parents and friends that we'll surely slow to a parched crawl and spew dust if we don't at least make some sort of psychological effort to drink eight full glasses of water per day. We're promised better skin, deeper sleep, improved mood, increased energy, and cleansed insides. But there have been trickles (pun intended) of doubt over the years about whether these 64 ounces of agua are truly a necessity or merely some "apple a day" chatter with a minimal scientific basis.

Hell, it's kind of hard to drink eight glasses of water a day. Glasses come in all different shapes and sizes, so you never know if you're really drinking eight ounces with each refill, and you're constantly in and out of the bathroom. Accidentally go three hours without hydrating? Well, now you're screwed—your schedule is thrown all off. Your skin is fading to a crackling grey. Your morale is plummeting.

READ: This Man Survives on Zero Glasses of Water a Day

It's time to end the struggle: you don't need to chug water all day. In fact, you're probably fine with just half of the mythologized eight glasses so commonly cited, according to Harvard Medical School. And they're smart over there.

New recommendations featured in the recent edition of the Harvard Health Letter argue that you really only need between 30 to 50 ounces per day—roughly four to six glasses. Think two of the 20-ounce bottled beverages that you'll typically see hanging out near your grocery store's checkout stands.

While we may need to up our water intake in the summer to cool off and replenish fluids lost from your neverending pit stains, it's still key to drink to alleviate thirst first and foremost. If you continue to glug and glug H2O just to reach that perfect number, you could damage your kidneys or develop hyponatremia, a condition where the body's electrolyte levels become imbalanced. But that's far less likely compared to the unpleasantries of dehydration, which include heart palpitations, fainting, weakness, dizziness, and fatigue.

READ: America's First Water Sommelier Drinks Icebergs

Worth noting: it doesn't even have to be water in your CamelBak. You can also make that coffee, iced tea, or even Pimm's Cups. As Dr. Sharmeela Saha, director of the dialysis center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, told CBS News, "It's really about fluids in general. Doesn't necessarily have to be water." Let's get crazy and make some Yoo-hoo spritzers, shall we? (It is particularly nice that water doesn't have any calories or sugar—though, only three more weeks to go till you can go back to giving zero shits about your beach body.)

Water, water, everywhere—and just enough to drink.