28 August 2008

All about the morning after

So, you’ll be joining some friends after work for a few drinks. Whether your choice is ice-cold draught beer or exotic, neon concoctions with silly names.

So, you’ll be joining some friends after work for a few drinks. Whether your choice is ice-cold draught beer or exotic, neon concoctions with umbrellas and silly names, you might wake up tomorrow feeling like a tennis ball after the Oz Open. Here’s why.

A few drinks may ease social intercourse and wash down your food. But drinking steadily for longer than a couple of hours can make you feel grim the next morning. And as any student will tell you, knocking it back for longer than six hours in one go will leave you feeling as though you’ve been hit by a train.

‘I need to sing a Village People medley …’
Alcohol’s first target is the central nervous system, which controls vital body functions, including speech. It’s why you have trouble asking for someone’s telephone number after six tequilas.

Booze interferes with the central nervous system’s capacity to analyse the stimulus it receives from your sense organs, resulting in the classic symptoms of overindulgence: slurred speech, impaired sense of balance, sweating and of course, loosening of inhibitions.

The sudden urge to dance on tables, go skinny-dipping in winter or sing karaoke is a result of alcohol’s assault on the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls conscious thought.

‘I need the toilet, again …’
Alcohol is a potent diuretic, causing your kidneys to pump fluid to your bladder. This dehydrates you, resulting in many of the hangover symptoms that rugby fans exhibit on a Sunday morning: pallour, thirst, dizziness and trembling.

‘I need a pizza …’
A craving for carbohydrates after heavy drinking is the result of alcohol’s affect on your blood sugar levels. You body responds to the high levels of glucose in most types of alcohol by producing more insulin to deal with the glucose. When the levels of glucose are low, you feel shaky, sweaty, tired and in need of a carbohydrate-rich food.

‘Booze helps me sleep …’
You may feel that you’ve slept well after a couple of drinks, but there’s evidence that alcohol interferes with sleep rhythms. So although you might fall asleep as soon as your head hits the headboard, you won’t wake up feeling rested.

And if your partner complains that you snore when you drink, blame the booze: alcohol causes the pharyngeal muscles - they’re in the back of your mouth – to relax. This increases the likelihood of you snoring.

‘Yuk. You still smell of booze. Go away’
If you’ve had a lot to drink you could still be over the legal limit for driving the next day. This is because your beleaguered liver can only break down limited amounts of alcohol at a time. Apart from smelling awful, you may also look and feel grim. This is because heavy drinking depletes your body of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay balanced and feel good.

‘My head hurts…’
Without water, your body can’t get rid of toxins, but alcohol hinders this process in two ways: it acts as a diuretic, dehydrating the body. And when your liver processes alcohol it produces a toxic byproduct called acetaldehyde.

This toxin – and all the others in your body – are trapped by dehydration and and cause nausea, throbbing headaches and dizziness.

Your body fights the symptoms of overindulgence, but this process takes time. The solution? Drink in moderation. - (William Smook)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.