As you lay in bed on New Year's Day, enumerating all the life choices that led you to this point for maximum regretting capability, did you stop to wonder what dehydration does to your body? After all, dehydration is a key factor in some of the most unpleasant effects of a hangover: Fatigue, dizziness, and the omnipresent headache. This isn't the only source of your suffering, of course; research has also pointed to alcohol-induced inflammation and drops in blood sugar as exacerbating factors. That being said, the fact remains that dehydration isn't a fun time for anyone — in fact, it can make you miserable even if you didn't go a little too hard last night.
Fix.com took a look at what happens to your body when you're dehydrated, and the results are enough to make you want to chug, like, four glasses of water in a row. (Just make sure you're near a bathroom first.) Levels of dehydration vary, but even a small dip in your fluid levels is enough to have negative effects. Minor signs of dehydration include headache, dry mouth, dry skin, crankiness, and even a craving for sweets — annoying symptoms, for sure, but nothing too serious. However, going longer without sufficient hydration can cause rapid heartbeat, severe dizziness, delirium, and lack of sweating.
There are plenty of causes of dehydration beyond the obvious "not drinking enough water" bit. According to research, you can become dehydrated from things like stress, being on your period, and some prescription medications. Luckily, there's an easy way to nip dehydration in the bud: The skin turgor test, aka the pinch test. All you have to do is pinch the skin on the back of your hand, and watch how it settles back down. If it snaps back into place, congratulations! You're well-hydrated. If it takes a few seconds to return to normal, you could be dehydrated, so go chug a glass of water. I'll wait.
Research has also shown that you can check out your nail cuticles for signs of dehydration; if they're dry or peeling, you're probably not drinking enough water. Of course, you could also just pay attention to how thirsty you are, but who has time for that?