We all know alcohol is unhealthy, but most of us do not know the extent of the damage it causes to the body.
Alcohol consumption, even in moderate amounts, can have a seismic impact on sleep, energy, mental health, diet and nutrition, and even exercise.
Although we all feel a bit sleepy after a few drinks, drinking alcohol can significantly decrease sleep quality.
The main reason? Even after one drink, the time spent in REM decreases. REM stands for 'Rapid Eye Movement', the sleep phase when we dream, strengthen our memory, emotional processing, and healthy brain development.
Roughly seven hours after the nightcap, alcohol raises the body's epinephrine. Epinephrine is a stress hormone that increases the heart rate and stimulates the body. When this hormone increases, so do nighttime awakenings and disruptions. Alcohol also relaxes throat muscles, and this relaxation can again worsen sleep-related breathing problems and contribute to sleep apnea. What's more, alcohol may increase the need to urinate during the night — just another way in which it can disrupt sleep.
Alcohol also tricks people into thinking they're receiving a momentary energy boost. But instead, it impairs the body's natural energy and decreases dopamine and serotonin levels; these neurotransmitters control our mood and energy regulation!
Alcohol consumption during the day can also make us drowsy and lethargic, especially if we didn't sleep well the night before. As humans, we also each have our own naturally 'low-energy times of the day. If we drink during these times (mid-afternoon, late evenings), it's even harder to recover our energy.
Energy Drinks & Alcohol
Alcohol often triggers an energy slump, and people tend to fend it off by mixing alcoholic beverages with energy drinks. Energy drinks mask the sedative and adverse effects, making us less aware of our state. The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks induce a condition described as a 'wide awake drunk', where the caffeine in energy drinks provides a temporary impact against the drowsiness alcohol causes.
Mixing energy drinks and alcohol causes brain fog, heart palpitations, heart issues and sleeping problems.
Disrupted sleep and lack of energy are factors that, on their own, could negatively impact our ability or drive to exercise. However, alcohol also increases our risk of injury and slows our bodies' natural systems and responses.
Alcohol consumption in high amounts can cause serious liver problems, preventing the liver from producing glucose and triggering the body to utilize all of its stored glycogen - to compensate for this, our body begins to secrete insulin, which can then lead to low blood sugar. The body needs a healthy blood sugar weight to exercise, and when our blood sugar is low, we may experience weakness, shakiness, and intense fatigue.
Alcohol also negatively impacts our motor skills, balance, reaction time and hand-eye coordination, making injury more likely.
Alcohol decreases the body's dopamine and serotonin levels; these neurotransmitters regulate our mood and energy. A few drinks make us feel better temporarily; however, in the long term, they can lead to an increased risk of depression and feelings of anxiety.
It's important to remember that alcohol is a depressant drug; it can worsen pre-existing mental health conditions or increase the risk of developing them. Often, people self-medicate with alcohol to help cope with stress, depression and anxiety. However, in the long term, alcohol will only increase the problems we are trying to escape from.
Alcohol negatively impacts our mood and cognitive function. It also tends to increase stress and anxiety.
Alcohol intake, if not monitored, can seriously impact almost every aspect of our health. It drives weight gain and disrupts sleep, energy levels, mood, and mental and physical wellbeing.