In my last ADHD Success blog post I shared why drinking enough water is important in managing Attention Deficit. Today let’s talk about how you can remember to drink water if you have ADHD.
After all, as with most things with Attention Deficit, knowing isn’t enough. This isn’t Knowledge Deficit Disorder. The tricky part is translating the knowing into doing.
Thinking we’ll remember to drink water doesn’t work. Just like we often don’t notice when we’re hungry, we don’t notice when we’re thirsty. The ADHD brain needs reminders.
Though I often recommend reminder systems, having a message pop up to drink some water will become annoying and before long you’ll delete the thing entirely.
In my experience, I’ve found ADHD adults find it easier to remember certain tasks if they think in terms of hooks instead of reminders.
By hooks, I mean attaching – hooking – the behavior or habit you want to another action. A hook is essentially a mini routine that leads you from one activity to another.
How To Remember To Drink Water If You Have ADHD
Hook drinking water like this:
- Refill your coffee cup. Pour a cup of coffee, drink a glass of water
- Get up in the morning – drink a glass of water
- Go to the bathroom – drink a glass of water
- Eat a snack – drink a glass of water
- Walk by a drinking fountain – drink some water
See the pattern?
Of course you need to have a glass near a sink or a water bottle on hand (this is a fun, motivating one!). Remember it has to be easy or you won’t do it if you have ADHD.
You’ll have more success if you keep it simple.
ADHD adults can remember to drink water by hooking it to some other activity they are sure to do throughout the day.
Other tips to keep your ADHD brain healthy:
Kick Some ADHD podcast: Ep. 119: Seeing Through the ADHD Brain Fog
Kick Some ADHD podcast: Ep 11: Why Meditation Matters for ADHD Brains
I’m a 60 year old female, diagnosed 2 years ago with autism and ADHD and can’t stand drinking water. Has to have SOMETHING in it. I have been adding Decaf Chai Tea liquid and almond milk to water and ice in order to have something to sip on. Or decaf coffee iced (but that’s dehydrating in itself I guess)………Ritalin makes my tummy not so good. Have to now take 2 Zantacs every day and don’t feel like eating much of anything from late afternoon on. Everything I eat is forced and drinking my spicy decaf tea I used to love? Forget it. So, water is pretty much OUT. ;-(
Ah Melody, that’s too bad. It makes everything harder. I often add a splash of coconut water or lemon to my water. Perhaps something like that will help. Also, does eating BEFORE you take your Ritalin help your tummy feel better? ADHD bodies can be so sensitive. Sorry I don’t have an easy answer! Dana
I do flavor enhancers in my water, the kind that you get in little squirt bottles. And I put lots of ice in it. That helps me, maybe you too?
Thanks Dana. Can’t do lemon due to the citric acid (I thought) but Can do coconut water.
Hi Melody – My understanding is that the citric acid blocks the stimulant medication absorption for only about an hour after you take the meds. Though coconut water is good, too! – Dana
How much water is recommended per dosing of Ritalin?
Hi Kat, According to Dr. Daniel Amen, the recommended amount of water to drink is twice your weight in ounces a day. Dana
I could have sworn it was half your body weight in fluid ounces. Is this specific to Ritalin? What about Adderall?
You’re right, David. According to Dr Amen, we need to drink half our body weight in fluid ounces a day. (Weigh 200 lbs? Drink 100 ounces.) This is a human thing; not just an ADHD thing. Though staying hydrated is especially important for people with ADHD, because a dehydrated brain doesn’t work as well. And, if you’re taking a stimulant medication for ADHD like Ritalin or Adderall, it becomes even more important because a medication side effect is dehydration. Hope this helps, Dana
Thumbs up!! Ms.or Mrs. I agree. I received my confirmation.
I weigh 130 pounds – so twice my body weight in ounces would be 260 ounces? That is around 7.6 litres – surely thats harmful? Or have I not done my calculations correctly?
Hi Megan, it’s half your body weight in ounces – 65 ounces.
I’ve just found this website and so far im pleasantly surprised. I’ve been searching for the past few days for a positive place to discuss medication and changing behaviors.
Thanks so much! We aim to provide a place where people can come to get the right information.
Thanks, Joanne! Glad you’re here. Dana
How does this dehydration make you feel? My muscle feel very tired and it makes being active difficult.
Dehydration makes me sluggish and my brain foggy. Like I’m trying to think through mud. I also get a headache. Hope this helps, Dana
You explain it perfectly. I have to really focus on my words as I am speaking too. Going to try to hydrate more. How much water is needed per day in ml ideally?
Dr Amen says 1/2 your weight in ounces a day is what we need.
I was diagnosed ADD 2 months ago and prescribed concerta 36mg. i got med for first month. Hilarious. I fixed a lot of stuff in my business and life. ( Computer Engineer) , and the next month i prescribed again for two boxes of 36 mg. at the 18th week, all the magic disappeared. And my doc is not available because he s in holiday.
What should i do ? Should i try to double ?
And i realised that i dont drink water at all but i drink a lot of tea everyday. maybe 1.5 liters of black tea without suger.
Doesnt it count ?
Hi Hakn, It sounds like you need a medication increase. Many people need their dose increased to reach their best focus and functioning. Will your doctor return from holiday soon? It’s best to wait and increase under his guidance. Doubling on your own may be too much. You want the smallest does that gets the best result.
Regarding tea – current thinking says that is as good as water. Especially if it’s not sweetened.
Good luck! Dana
I have just started Concerta 18mg and am experiencing bad brain fog. Almost feels like my brain is scrambled. Have always been terrible with drinking water. Is this the likely cause? Am I likely to see an improvement?
Try drinking more water. That could be the problem. If the brain fog persists, talk to your doctor.
I am 24F and was diagnosed ADHD in early childhood I always “forget” that I am hungry and often feel no need at all to drink liquids. I loved spicy food and ate it a lot in early adolescence and still enjoy it to this day though not in near the quantities I did. I was wondering if this has contributed in me getting kidney stones and or a kidney issue I have been to the ER for the kidney pain since 2017 to different specialists that were unable to help. There was a time I drank water like it was no bodies business but now as I have lost weight I have a hard time drinking enough water.
Hi Alyssa, I’m not an expert on kidney stones – other than to have heard how painful they are. Ouch! I have also heard that drinking enough water does reduce kidney stones. I’d say frequent small amounts of water – perhaps a water drinking reminder app would help. Anyone else have any kidney stone advice for Alyssa? Thanks, Dana
I’m 29F diagnosed this year but had a childhood diagnosis that was never treated. It makes so much sense now that I am on Adderall, but I do have trouble staying hydrated and even eating properly with 3 small children and lactose intolerance it’s hard. I just ordered a Curkul bottle since I hate plain water, and found fairlife protein shakes. So I’m hopeful this all improves!