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A few weeks ago I woke up feeling more fatigued than usual—and that's really saying something, I'm not exactly what you'd call a morning person—with a dull headache and a dry mouth. Now, I know what you're thinking: That sounds like a classic hangover. And usually I'd agree with you, but the night before I only had one small glass of wine with dinner, so I knew it wasn't that.
But after snoozing my alarm more times than I care to admit, I forced myself out of bed, made a giant pot of coffee, and tried to get on with my day. As I called into meeting after meeting it became increasingly hard to focus, and the constant stream of coffee didn't seem to help at all.
"B, have you had any water today?" my friend back home in Ohio texted in response to my numerous complaints about what I could only assume was my body succumbing to some mystery illness.
It was like a lightbulb immediately went off. No, I had not had any water (unless you count the water used to brew my extra strong coffee) and I was pretty sure I drank maybe one glass the day before. Turns out, staying hydrated is pretty important.
Coincidentally, around that same time, our story about drinking a gallon of water a day started attracting more readers than ever. Maybe it was a sign or maybe everyone else was just forgetting to drink enough water too. Either way, when our editorial director, Allison Bean, suggested that the MyDomaine edit team along with our friends at The Spruce all try to drink a gallon of water a day for a full week, I was instantly on board.
So, how did we fare on our hydration journey? Read on to find out how drinking a gallon of water a day for a full week affected everything from our skin to energy to time spent in the bathroom.
Initial Thoughts on Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day
As we kicked off our week of increased water intake, the level of excitement varied from person to person. Some people were filled with a sense of dread: "My initial thought was: 'there is no way I can do this'," says Candace Madonna, visual editor for The Spruce. While others thought it would be a breeze: "This will be easy! I drink a lot of water already," explains Margot Cavin, photo producer for The Spruce.
To note: we took this challenge on during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, so we were working from home and not all together in the office. So there was some fear that being away from the office water fountains would make the challenge a little more difficult. "While I’m normally a big water drinker, with the shift to working from home I was concerned my hydrating had dropped off (I generally hit the water fountain to refill my bottle when walking from meeting to meeting). I didn’t think hitting a gallon would be that difficult to do, until I actually started tracking my intake," explains editorial director Allison Bean.
How We Approached the Challenge
Each person had a different strategy they used to approach the challenge. For some, that just entailed drinking when they were thirsty. I personally made sure to only use one water bottle (a 24 ounce HydroFlask) the whole time and track each finished bottle in my notebook. But our general manager, Mélanie Berliet, created an impressively structured routine.
"My strategy was to start early. On day one I waited too long to get going so I ended up cramming right before bedtime, which really messed with my sleep schedule since I had to get up several times during the night to relieve myself," she explains. "So by day two my strategy was: drink 48 ounces by 9 a.m., 96 ounces by 12 p.m., and finish off the last 32 ounces by 3 p.m."
On day one I waited too long to get going so I ended up cramming right before bedtime, which really messed with my sleep schedule.
Our photo editor, Amy Lisa Cooper, would start each day by filling a 16 ounce mason jar with water, and strive to refill it every time it was empty. But she enlisted some help to keep her accountable too. "Thankfully my partner was helping me with that, so it occasionally magically refilled itself," she says.
Does Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day Affect Appetite
As the week progressed, several members of our team noticed a slight impact on their appetites, namely: we were snacking less. "During this challenge, I realized my afternoon snack was mostly driven by boredom," Bean explains. "Once I was focused on drinking water I no longer wanted to munch on something"
Cooper also noticed she felt full more often and less drawn to snacking, and associate social editor Kim Carvalho described her snack cravings as "almost non-existent."
That said, several people also noticed they felt bloated, especially at the beginning of the week, as their bodies adjusted to the increased ounces.
Does Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day Affect Cravings for Other Beverages
For newsletter editor, Karli Bendlin, striving to drink a gallon of water a day was far from a challenge, as she's spent the last year consciously upping her water intact. "I didn't notice a ton of significant changes during the week only because I’d already been drinking so much water, but I can speak to some of the long term effects of this challenge," she explains.
Namely, her interest in other beverages, especially sugary sodas or alcoholic drinks has declined significantly. "I’ve noticed my interest in soda and alcoholic drinks has really decreased since I began making an effort to hydrate more," she says. "I do still enjoy something besides water with meals, but now I’ll usually reach for an unsweetened tea rather than soda or wine."
But did those of us who were just getting started on the hydration train notice anything similar? For Cooper, the answer is sort of. "I'm a two or more beverage at a time type of gal, but during this I found myself much more focused on finishing my water than looking for my coffee mug or wine glass in the evening. Don't get me wrong—I still found my wine glass at dinner time, but keeping my water intake at the top of my mind definitely distracted me a bit more from wanting other drinks," she says. "Having to use the bathroom every 10 mins also helped to deter me from drinking even more."
For Berliet, though, there was no discernible difference. "I definitely continued to drink coffee, tea, and wine in the same quantities that I always do," she says.
And for Sami Allen, lifestyle editor for The Spruce, she found her cravings for water actually increased. "The more I drank, the more I wanted," she says. "I would wake up parched because I hadn't been drinking water at the same pace as during the day."
Does Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day Affect Hair, Skin, and Nails
If you've ever read a celebrity profile, it's likely you've heard an actor or musician wax poetic about water being the secret to keeping their physical appearance in tip-top shape. But would one week of drinking 128 ounces of water really make a difference?
For Jamie Abarca, editorial project coordinator for The Spruce, the answer was yes. But not in a desirable way. "My first red flag was an immediate change in my skin," she explains. "My normal/dry skin decided to purge on day three. My skin was visibly plumper but I started feeling small bumps on the sides of my nose and cheeks. This ultimately led me to stop the challenge on day four."
Similarly, Berliet noticed a change in her hair that she wasn't particularly fond of. "The only change I noticed was that my hair became silkier, though not in a way that I liked. My appetite remained the same, and my skin didn't seem to respond, either," she says."
My normal/dry skin decided to purge on day three. My skin was visibly plumper but I started feeling small bumps on the sides of my nose and cheeks. This ultimately led me to stop the challenge on day four.
But longtime gallon of water drinker, Bendlin, assures us that the benefits may just take some time. "My skin has been the clearest it’s ever been, and I’ve noticed I have less dry spots than I used to," she explains.
Does Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day Affect Workouts
For the fitness enthusiasts in the group, there was no real consensus on whether or not drinking more water really impacted their workouts.
"I hit two PRs while on my daily Peloton rides, but whether that was the water or Leanne Hainsby’s 90s playlist, I couldn’t say," Bean says.
Does Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day Affect Sleep
As you might assume, drinking a full gallon of water every single day leads to a significant increase in trips to the bathroom. I remember distinctly using the restroom right before calling into a meeting and then feeling the urge to go again only 10 minutes in the call, something my colleagues experienced as well.
"The bathroom breaks were cutting into my work day," Abarca explains.
But did those frequent bathroom trips make sleep any more difficult? For Cooper, the answer is mostly no. "Aside from needing to get up to use the bathroom during the night, my quality of sleep seemed to improve," she says. "I fell asleep easier and my sleep felt deeper/more restorative than usual."
Finishing your ounces well before bedtime seems to be the key though. "Just don't drink a lot after 10 pm," Cavin cautions. "Weird dreams..."
Aside from needing to get up to use the bathroom during the night, my quality of sleep seemed to improve.
Our Final Thoughts on Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day
While not everyone plans to continue drinking 128 full ounces everyday, the challenge did make us more aware of our water consumption. "While I don’t think I’ll continue to drink a gallon of water each day, this challenge has made me more mindful of what I consume and why, and for that I’m grateful," Bean says.
Carvalho concurs, saying: "Honestly, I probably won't drink a gallon of water a day moving forward, but I am going to continue drinking at the very least my recommended daily intake." Allen, on the other hand "loved" the challenge, which should come as no surprise as she describes herself as "water's number one fan."
And if the frequent pee breaks give you caution, Berliet's final takeaway proves it's not all a bad thing. "When you drink a gallon of water per day, your pee becomes so translucent, it's as if you're peeing actual water," she says. "I enjoyed this aspect of the challenge a lot."