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No matter how many times I’m reminded to stay hydrated (thanks, mom), for some reason I find it impossibly difficult to down eight glasses of water throughout the day. Chalk it up to laziness—or, what I prefer to consider being busy—but I rarely reach the recommended 64 ounces of water by bedtime. Even when there’s an enormous bottle of Evian sitting in front of me, I’ll look at it and think, “oh yeah, I should drink some of that,” before going back to doing whatever I was working on. “For your body to function optimally in itself, it needs hydration,” Amy Shah, MD, a board-certified physician who specializes in GI issues and food sensitivities, reminds me. "The gut, hormones, appetite control, concentration, and vision—these things have all been shown to be affected by how well you’re hydrated."
So, when I got an email about an app called Pee and See, which—you guessed it—tracks how often you pee, I was immediately intrigued. Turns out, you should be peeing at least every three hours. "It may sound like a joke, but it's not,” the email from the brand’s creator read. "Tap a button every time you go to the bathroom, and then get a notification reminding you to drink water if it's been three hours since you peed.” There’s even a “Log Pee” button on the widgets center of your smartphone, so you don’t have to bother opening the app. Sounds easy enough, right?
Call me crazy, but the first morning of my experiment, I woke up amped to start tracking my bathroom visits. In fact, I found that I was so excited to start logging that I was forcing myself to chug water to stay ahead of the app’s three-hour reminders. That first day, I logged seven pees over the course of 12 hours, and didn’t need to be reminded to drink water once. Clearly, it was working.
The next day, my phone died while I was out, and so I wasn’t as diligent about logging. But I’m proud to report that I was still diligent about drinking water. I downed an entire bottle (2.5 liters!) of water, and stayed hyper-aware of all my bathroom visits, all of which took place well within the recommended three-hour window.
After the first few days, though, I’ll admit that my use of the app started to get a little lax. I was still completely aware of how often I was peeing, but wasn’t so good about logging it into the app. Angry emojis popped up every few hours reminding me to hydrate, which I ignored. At this point, I started to get a water-drinking rhythm down and my bathroom visits seemed regular, so I didn’t feel that I needed to continue to tell my phone every time I hit the toilet.
As for Dr. Shaw’s take: "If you are not drinking any alcohol, not having any caffeine throughout the day, or not taking any kind of medications that could have a diuretic effect, like blood pressure medicine, this type of app could be helpful,” she said when asked if an app like this would work to gauge hydration. "But in a lot of cases—most people have coffee or tea in the morning—the number of times you pee isn’t a really good marker of hydration.” She suggests relying on the color of your pee instead. It should be light yellow in color or completely clear.
But it’s been three weeks since I downloaded the app, and as a sort-of, kind-of user, I can honestly say that it has changed my hydration habits for the better. While the amount of times you urinate may not be a good reflection of your hydration levels, I have become more aware of how often I’m going to the bathroom and consuming the recommended amount of water as a result. Drinking it doesn’t feel like such an impossible chore anymore.
I like that the app sends me reminders, but I don’t necessarily feel like I need them (though the emojis are cute). Even so, Pee and See helped turn me into a die-hard water drinker in a matter of only a few weeks, for which I am forever grateful. And if I start to slip back into my old habits, I know there’s an app to help get me back on track.