The morning after - Hangovers and feeling down
“I love it on a Friday, hate it on a Saturday morning”
Hangovers, regrets and feeling down
With hangovers, regrets and feeling down, the morning after a heavy night’s drinking can sometimes feel a long way from the good night before.
What happens to your body during a hangover?
Alcohol affects your whole body, so the after-effects of overdoing it can be felt in lots of different parts of your body and brain:
- Headache – The hangover headache comes from dehydration and pressure from the widening of your blood vessels, caused by alcohol.
- Tiredness – Alcohol interferes with your sleep patterns, so you will likely still feel tired when you wake.
- Sensitivity to light – Acetydehyde (which is produced when alcohol is broken down) makes the nervous system extra sensitive.
- Thirst– Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you lose fluid from your body. You can lose as much as 4 times as much fluid as you take in.
- Trembling – Trembling can be caused by low blood sugar – the result of alcohol’s effect on the liver.
- Sickness – Alcohol increases the amount of acid in your stomach, which can make you feel sick or vomit.
- Feeling down or depressed – Alcohol affects the brain’s happiness chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. This may make you feel good and happy while you are drinking, but when the effect has worn off you can feel anxious, down or depressed.
- Regret– While we are drunk our sense of right and wrong and our judgement may not work so well. This can lead to regret – wishing we could turn back the clock and avoid some of the consequences of our actions.
- Shame – Alcohol removes our inhibitions. ‘Drunk you’ often does things that ‘sober you’ would never do. It can be hard to face up to embarrassing behaviour when we sober up.
- Guilt – You may feel bad that you got drunk. You may have done something silly, spent too much money, upset your children or let someone down because of your drinking.
- Relationship worries – If you have been drunk you may be worried that something you did has harmed your relationship with a friend or loved one. You may have got into an argument or a fight, said something you regret or even been unfaithful.
- Feeling unable to function – It can take your body hours to get back to normal after a heavy night’s drinking. Alcohol also affects your sleep, so even if you are not sick, you will probably be feeling very tired. You may have to cancel plans or miss work. You may feel annoyed that your day is wasted. Or you may find it hard to perform at work or look after your children or meet your other responsibilities.
Drink less, avoid regrets and have more fun
Just like bingeing on food can make us feel bloated and sick, going past a certain point and having too much alcohol can spoil a good night out, causing sickness, hangovers, arguments, accidents and regrets.
Taking it steady not only keeps you safer and healthier, it can stop a good night turning into a disaster zone.
See Drink less, gain more for advice on getting a healthier drinking pattern and tips for staying in control while you are drinking.
If you often feel bad after drinking, or you feel it is affecting your life in a way you don’t like, see our section Worried about your drinking?