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Alcohol: The Effects on Your Body

Whether it is a celebration or just a night out with friends, drinking too much alcohol can lead to the dreaded hangover.

Do you know what a hangover means for your brain and body?

There are many miss conceptions about hangovers, cures them and how to prevent them. Read more to find out what causes hangovers and what is the best remedy for avoiding them.

What are the symptoms of hangovers?

Hangovers can have a variety of symptoms that vary person to person. Typically hangovers occur the night after a few drinks, but for some they can occur the same night.

Some typical hangover symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • body and muscle aches
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • sensitivity to light
  • depression
  • sleepiness
  • irritability
  • vomiting

What causes a hangover?

While we are familiar with the symptoms of a hangover, we struggle at times to figure out why we are suffering from these symptoms.

Hangovers can be caused by several factors that all include the negative effects alcohol has on the body.

If you have ever noticed, when you start drinking you tend to have to urinate more often than normal. This increase in urination increases your chances of dehydration, and can have an impact on your body the day after drinking.

Drinking alcohol can cause your blood sugar to drop. This negative effect can cause you to be moody, weak and tired.

When you drink, it increases the production of stomach acids. This in turn slows down the stomach's natural cycle of emptying which can lead to nausea and vomiting.

Alcohol can have a negative impact on your immune system. Again, for some people drinking alcohol can cause an inflammation on your immune system which can negatively affect your concentration and your memory.

How does alcohol impact your sleep?

Other than the dreaded hangover, drinking can have a serious impact on your sleeping cycle.

Why is that?

While alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, alcohol reduces your REM sleep (deepest sleep stage where dreams occur and learning happens). This effect on your REM sleep is only serious when you have a heavy night of drinking. Less than two drinks shouldn't have a serious impact on your REM sleep. 

What are prevention and treatment options?

The best prevention for hangovers, is to limit yourself from drinking alcohol. If you are to drink, to limit the drinks to no more than 3 drinks for women and 4 drinks for men.

Treating hangovers the next day will require a combination of efforts to help bring your brain and body to recovery. These treatment options include sipping water throughout the day, eating bland food (such as crackers and bread) which will help raise your blood sugar and resting.

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