Between jobs, internships and classes, it can be hard for collegiettes to find time to unwind and let loose. After a crazy day, going out partying is a fun and exciting way to hang out with friends and forget about your to-do list for a few hours.
Although parties are a good time, there’s a fine line between having fun and getting out of control. Before you know it, your continuous partying could start negatively affecting your health and life. If you or a friend is struggling with keeping your party habits under control, read on for relatable and reliable advice about monitoring your going-out habits.
1. You’re sleep deprived or you can’t fall asleep
According to Sandra Halbruner, a nurse practitioner at Messiah College’s Engle Center for Counseling and Health Services, sleep deprivation is a main concern and consequence of partying too much.
“By failing to get enough sleep by staying out too late to party, you’re essentially handicapping your brain,” Halbruner says. Since trying to get enough rest is difficult on a regular basis, it becomes even harder when partying is added to the mix. If you find that you’re failing to get the rest you need to stay mentally alert after too many late nights out, your partying habits could be becoming a problem.
Furthermore, drinking impairs your quality of sleep, so even if you are getting to bed at a sane hour, if you’re frequently doing so drunk, you won’t be as well-rested. Since getting enough sleep is so important for your health, if you find that you’re run down from too much barhopping, it can never hurt to take a weekend off.
2. Your grades are slipping
As if being enrolled in several college classes at once isn’t enough, maintaining your social schedule can prove to be daunting and distracting. Schoolwork may be put on the back burner if you’re more concerned about what to wear to that night’s party or if you’re nursing hangovers instead of studying on Sundays.
Although partying seems much more exciting compared to your research paper or an upcoming exam, try to remember the importance of your academic life. Halbruner notes that one of the earliest signs of problem partying is when your grades begin to drop.
“The student could originally be strong academically, but they soon find that they are too exhausted from their partying to have any motivation to complete their work, especially if they are using substances like drugs and/or alcohol,” she says.
The same goes for if you’ve been a lot less productive, you’re handing in assignments late, or you’ve started to skip class more often to recover from a late night out. Remember, it’s never too late to recover your academic performance—but the sooner you recognize that you need to step it up, the easier it will be to get back on track. If you do find that your grades are going downhill, set up a meeting with your professor to see if there are any extra credit opportunities or if there are other ways you can get back on track for the rest of the semester.
3. Your mood is changing
If partying has caused your sleeping schedule to change and your academic performance to decrease, these new changes to your lifestyle could also negatively influence your mood and how you’re able to handle the day-to-day grind.
Halbruner says that when you start partying too much, you “may seem more anxious or depressed than usual,” which will have an effect on your motivation to do work, as well as your relationships with others. If you notice that you’ve become moodier than usual, or if small annoyances are getting to you more often, this could be a sign that your partying is taking a toll on you.
4. You’re having conflicts with friends and roommates
If you become out of control regularly on the nights you go out, your roommates or friends probably bear the burden for picking up the pieces. This can cause frustration and conflict because it can get tiring and stressful to always be the one making sure that someone doesn’t drive drunk or hook up with someone they shouldn’t. If your friends often confront you the next day about what you did last night, or seem upset or annoyed the morning after, don’t take this lightly. Remember, they have your best interests in mind!
Halbruner notes that being out late partying and getting less sleep will have an impact on your interpersonal relationships as well. If this cycle of unpredictability and uncontrollable behavior is a common occurrence, then your partying may be getting out of control.
If your relationships do become strained, sit down with your friends and hear their perspectives. It can be hard to hear the problems that your friends have with your behavior, but that could be the wake-up call you need. Knowing that your behavior doesn’t just affect you but can also hurt or bother others can give you the motivation you need to cut back. Your friends will be more than willing to help you think of strategies to get back in control.
5. You’re having conflicts with your parents
The partying scene can also have negative effects on how it feels to go home for a weekend. The desire to play with younger siblings or engage during family dinner may decrease, since going out with friends to the club or to drink might be a bigger priority. Conflicts and arguments with parents become more frequent the less time and effort you spend on nurturing family relationships. If you find that you’re dreading going home more than usual, you’re nervous to speak with your parents, or you fear the consequences of what will happen if they were to find out about your partying, this could be a sign to tone things down a notch.
6. You’re relying on alcohol
It’s no secret that there’s alcohol at college parties. Drinking has become so integrated in the college experience that it can be difficult to tell when your habits cross over from social drinking to alcohol dependency. Signs of dependency include craving drinks throughout the day, constantly having thoughts about drinking or being unable to go out with your friends without drinking.
Halbruner says that “if you’re at the point where you’re waking up with hangovers often,” this can be a sign of a problem, despite how much our culture has accepted hangovers as the inevitable aftermath of drinking.
Halbruner notes that medical experts will often use a set of questions known as “CAGE” in order to help determine alcohol dependency in a person. The acronym stands for feeling as if you should Cut down on your alcohol use, feeling Annoyance if someone asks you about your drinking habits, feeling Guilty about your drinking habits and having an Eye-opening experience, such as drinking in the morning to steady your nerves. Asking yourself whether you’ve had these experiences can guide you toward confronting a potential problem.
7. You’re getting sick often
When your partying is out of control, your physical health is often affected. If you’re not sleeping enough or not eating nutritious food (because a salad never really sounds good after a night of drinking), your immune system will take a hit. “Sleep deprivation and stress alone can affect your immune system,” Halbruner says. “Once you add partying to the mix, it becomes even worse.” Since our demanding schedules don’t leave room for sickness, this can become a serious issue quickly.
8. You’re blacking out
Nothing is worse than not being able to remember where you were or what you did at the party that you went to last night. When you experience a blackout, your sense of memory and control is impaired, which is a scary concept to think about. The cause of a blackout—ingesting large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time—causes damage to your physical health, such as liver problems, that could turn deadly. If you find yourself frequently blacking out after a party, this is definitely a sign that your partying has become out of control.
You also put yourself at risk of getting into countless dangerous situations when you’re blacked out. From going home with someone you shouldn't or getting separated from your friends to losing your belongings or injuring yourself, lacking total awareness when you’re out can end in a number of horrible ways.
Solving the problem
If anything, simply recognizing that you are experiencing one of the above eight problems can help you uncover the impact of your partying. “Your brain isn’t fully mature until age 25, so until then it’s a bit harder to see the impact and effects of your decisions,” Halbruner says. “Although, if you do begin to notice that your quality of life is starting to crumble—such as lower grades and sleep loss—that’s a huge sign that it’s time to make a change.”
To try and tone down your partying habits, Halbruner recommends working on learning how to prioritize your time.
“Students often want to party to relieve their stress, almost self-medicating by partying,” she says. For a more permanent stress release, decide how to make your schedule work for you, and take care of yourself by making time for enough rest and other healthy habits.
If you’re concerned about your health or the health of a friend, seek help from your campus’s health center, which will have trained professionals who care about your health and safety during your time at college. You’ll be taking one of the first steps towards becoming healthier and happier.