Sure, you might crash hard after a night of drinking—but you may also find yourself waking up bright and early (too bright, too early) come Sunday morning, even if your body needs sleep more than ever. So, what gives? First, let’s look at the effects of alcohol on the body and how it connects to your sleep.
How Drinking Messes with Your Body
“Alcohol introduces toxins into the body, which can cause short- and long-term damage,” explains John Mansour, pharmacist and founder of B4, a vitamin supplement designed to help combat hangovers. Your body responds by diluting the toxins, breaking them down, and trying to get them out of your body, stat. But if you’re drinking continuously over a longer period (we’ve all been there), your body can’t get rid of the toxins as quickly or efficiently.
Then, when you wake up at the crack of dawn, you’re probably dealing with a wicked hangover. “Side effects include dehydration, dry mouth, headache, light and sound sensitivity, upset stomach, lethargy, sleep deprivation, dizziness, muscle cramps, and general malaise,” he says. These symptoms surface because your body is using its stored supply of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and other essentials, to help fight the toxins that have entered your body from drinking.
Severe dehydration and heavy alcohol consumption actually cause your brain to shrink temporarily (!!), which can pull on the nerves attached to your skull and result in a pounding headache, Mansour says. Plus, frequent urination expels sodium, potassium, and other elements and minerals needed for proper nerve, muscle, and general cell function, he adds.