5 ways alcohol affects your energy levels
Alcohol is a depressant that slows down your brain and body functions. Drinkers can experience depression or lack of drive following alcohol consumption. We all know how hard it can be to get up early on a weekday morning, but if you’re feeling sluggish after drinking the previous night then it could be due to a combination of reasons. This blog highlights how alcohol can negatively affect your energy levels.
1) Alcohol decreases natural stimulants like dopamine and serotonin.
Alcohol impairs the body’s energy levels and further decreases natural stimulants like dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are responsible for your body’s energy and mood regulation, and their lack contributes to the feeling of exhaustion. Serotonin also plays a role in the production of melatonin, which helps regulate sleep. Alcohol can disrupt this process and lead to difficulty sleeping or insomnia.
Research suggests that drinking alcohol can even cause chronic fatigue syndrome, which hampers the body’s performance and prevents it from manufacturing enough energy naturally. So if you’re feeling sluggish after drinking alcohol then it might be time to take a break from alcohol for a while and see how your energy levels fare without it.
2) Drinking too much causes blood sugar levels to drop
Blood sugar increases naturally after a meal and it is this blood glucose that provides us with fuel for energy. This process is regulated by insulin, which the pancreas produces in response to elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Alcohol can damage cells within the pancreas and impair its ability to produce insulin correctly – leading to low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). When your body doesn’t have enough available energy from these natural sources then you’ll struggle to get through the day. In fact, many people who experience hypoglycaemia report feeling extremely tired throughout their day because they lack sufficient amounts of energy to fuel their bodies.
Low blood sugar can lead into another vicious cycle where individuals continue to drink excessively in an effort to suppress feelings of tiredness. This means that drinking alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to drop even further and lead into a state of constant fatigue.
3) The sedative effect of alcohol can lead to sleepiness
Although alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep, for some people they can experience increased drowsiness and sleep after drinking. Alcohol, like sleeping pills, can be a coping mechanism for some individuals get through temporary bouts of insomnia (and may even help them fall asleep more quickly). However, while these effects might feel welcome at the time, they are definitely not beneficial for your energy levels during the day because they contribute to fatigue by interrupting natural cycles of sleep.
When you drink alcohol, your body uses some of its energy to metabolize it. This means that some natural stimulants like dopamine are used up in the process which contributes further to fatigue and lack of motivation.
4) Drinking alcohol increases dehydration
Alcohol is a diuretic. This means that when consumed it causes our bodies to lose water, leading us dehydrated. Dehydration contributes to feelings of tiredness and sluggishness, as well as headaches or even muscle cramps – all symptoms that people often blame on a lack of energy when really, they’re simply down to dehydration from alcohol consumption.
One way this manifests itself is excessive sweating during the night after drinking excessively (even if you don’t notice). Additionally, dehydration can contribute further still to feelings of exhaustion because not having enough fluid available affects how well cells function throughout all parts of your body. Low blood pressure caused by dehydration also contributes to feelings of fatigue.
5) Alcohol can affect the liver and cause it to overwork
The liver is responsible for processing alcohol and breaking it down so that our bodies can use its energy. However, when we drink too much the liver has to work overtime in order to break down all of this excess alcohol. This can lead to damage and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) which impairs its ability to process nutrients correctly. This means that it cannot absorb energy from food sources in a natural way, leading you to feel tired all day long.
You can check your liver function with a simple blood test, such as one of our Health MOTs which include Liver Health among other key readings.