Hangover Hell: What Happens to Your Body After a Night of Drinking

Ah, the college experience, so classily represented in films like Animal House and the American Pie sequel, and so exquisitely described through countless memories of accounts we don’t actually remember.

Know what I’m talking about? That’s right, ladies & gents, I’m talking about love-making, drug-taking and (insert drumroll here) drinking--and not the kind that hydrates you!

Alcohol is one of the most commonly used mechanisms to take party-goers for a walk on the wild side, and it’s undeniably something that exists within many collegiate communities. Sadly, even though it can definitely help people let loose and have fun, there are definitely dangers to alcohol consumption.

I’m not here to lecture you on alcoholism, alcohol poisoning, or drunk driving, but it’s important to know that these potential dangers are something to be aware of about whenever consuming alcohol.

I do, however, want to educate you about what happens after a night of binge drinking--the hangover.

9:00 pm-1:00 am (ish):So let’s say that you’re headed to a party. You’re rockin’ those new kicks and that fab new hairstyle, and you’re ready to get JUUUUUST wasted enough to take some silly pictures, and create some new memories with your best pals!! So when you get there, you start drinking, and at some point you realize that you’re a teensy-bit past your limit, and might even feel some opening scene from Pitch Perfect saying hello from your stomach. Zoinks.

1:00 am: After some zany (and hopefully not too dangerous) events later, you’ve found yourself safe and cozy in your room, and your bed is looking like your actual soulmate. So you climb in, send out your Snap streaks and fall asleep immediately. In fact, you go to sleep EVEN FASTER than you normally would; from four to sixteen minutes earlier, to be exact, according to a recent study conducted by The London Sleep Centre. You also head into deep-slumber about eight minutes sooner as well...but your heart rate keeps pumpin’ like it does while you’re actively awake (about nine extra beats), which isn’t as great as getting that extra shut-eye in.

2:00am: At this point? You are still out. Cold. You aren’t even dreaming at this point. But your heart is actually beating faster (13 extra beats now), which is incredibly active for someone who should be getting well-needed shut-eye.

3:00am: Rapid Eye Movement (or REM) is necessary for people to get a good-night’s sleep, but you’re not getting any of that yet, because alcohol delays it! Also, when it finally hits you, it’s 9% less than it normally would be, which is going to help provide to the crazy headache you’re going to feel in the morning.

5:30am: By this point, you’re probably not in deep sleep anymore, since the alcohol is really starting to wear off. You’re potentially waking up 17% more frequently than you should be, which isn’t the best feeling.  

6:00am: And the restless dreaming has begun! You’re definitely not fully asleep at this point, and you’re starting to heavily stir. You’re feeling that metabolism kick in, and it ain’t fun at ALL, because all that dehydration and lack of real sleep is starting to get that headache and nausea going.

And by 8:00am, you’re probably up and at ‘em! And by that, I mean feeling like death might be your only option at this point.

But hangovers aren’t really just a morning-after struggle--according to a study shown in Time Magazine, when people drink alcohol right before bed, they show “more slow wave sleep patterns, and more so-called delta activity—a process linked to the restorative aspects of deeper sleep, when memories are firmed up, the brain’s detritus is cleared out and hard-working neurons get some much-needed replenishment”, which isn’t great at all.

Hangovers aren’t great, and neither are the longer-lasting effects of alcohol! So the next time you’re trying to decide whether you REALLY want to take that last tequila shot or not, think about how much better your sleep cycle would be without it!

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