Understanding Hangovers and How Sleep Can Help

Last updated: September 11th, 2023

Understanding Hangovers and How Sleep Can Help

It's not unusual for people to enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage – whether that's a glass of wine with dinner, a cold beer on a summer night, or a social drink with friends. But while many of us have had too much to drink and felt the unpleasant side-effects of a hangover the morning after, understanding why this happens and what can be done to help is still a bit of a mystery.

Alcohol has lots of effects on your body – from affecting your urinary system to influencing your mood, just to name a few. These various effects can lead to all sorts of uncomfortable hangover symptoms. Headaches and body aches, nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and sound, fatigue, weaknes, and irritability, to name a few.

So, how can sleep fit in? Can it help alleviate these unpleasant symptoms? Read on to learn more about alcohol and sleep and why a good night's rest might be just what the doctor ordered for hungover days.

Why Does Alcohol Cause a Hangover?

When it comes to understanding why alcohol causes a hangover, there are a few main factors to be aware of. Alcohol is a diuretic – meaning you will urinate more and can lead to dehydration. Alcohol also affects your blood sugar levels and can lower them leading to fatigue and mood swings. Additionally, drinking can cause your blood vessels to expand which can lead to a headache, and it can irritate your stomach leading to nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain.

Can Sleep Help a Hangover?

It's natural to want to sleep off a hangover, however it's important to keep in mind that sleep alone isn't going to prevent or cure the symptoms. That being said, getting some extra sleep in the form of an afternoon nap can help if you need to. While sleep won't cure your hangover, it can help make it more bearable by helping you feel more alert and reducing your fatigue.

The Bottom Line

Alcohol should always be enjoyed safely and moderately. And if you know you're planning a night out on the town, be sure to drink responsibly to avoid a hangover in the morning. While sleep can help make the symptoms more bearable, the best way to prevent a hangover is still to limit how much you drink.

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