This is what happens to your mind and body during a hangover
(NaturalHealth365) Think a hangover is just bad because it leaves you with a splitting headache and an upset stomach? Well, it turns out it’s not only your body that’s negatively affected by the after effects of drinking too much alcohol – research shows that a hangover can impair your cognitive performance, too.
We’re guessing that anyone who’s had a hangover before can understand this. Nonetheless, an important point shouldn’t be overlooked – that is, it’s not just getting drunk that can make you think and act poorly.
The surprising effects of a hangover
Before you reach for that one-too many cocktail tonight, try to stop and consider what a hangover can do for your brain function. In 2018, a review paper in the Journal of Addiction and Clinical Research highlighted the mental effects of hangovers in no uncertain terms: increased irritation, impaired concentration, and impaired memory and recall, to name a few.
Another 2018 paper from Addiction reported similar findings based on the systematic review of 19 studies that investigated the “next‐day cognitive effects of heavy alcohol consumption.” The authors found various levels of evidence to suggest that hangovers can impair a person’s short-term memory, sustained and divided attention, and psychomotor skills.
These consequences cannot be overstated. The same authors found that having a hangover can impair a person’s driving skills. In other words: a person who chooses to drink too much alcohol should not only be concerned about drunk driving; it seems that hungover driving may also put his or her safety at risk (not to mention the safety of other people on the road).
So, why are hangovers so bad for the brain? Here are the leading theories based on the research
Why do hangovers have such a powerful impact on a person’s cognitive performance, and physical body for that matter? Dehydration caused by alcohol is a main theory.
Excessive alcohol consumption triggers a diuresis effect by reducing the production of a hormone called vasopressin, which normally tells your kidneys to reabsorb water. Consequently, this can cause a person to urinate more, leading to dehydration – which is known to impair mood and mental function.
Other theories include the build up of a toxic compound called acetaldehyde and the disruption of sleep that alcohol causes. Both, perhaps all of these, can contribute to a person’s next-day mental fogginess.
In addition to these cognitive and mental impairments, many of us are also well aware of the physical effects of a hangover. These include:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Heart palpitations
- Hormonal imbalances
It’s not hard to imagine how distressing these physical symptoms can be! So, our message – at this point – ought to be quite clear.
If you were looking for another reason to cut back on your alcohol consumption in the New Year, consider this a good source of inspiration.
Sources for this article include: