We all know that driving under the influence of alcohol isn’t a good idea. Our focus is impaired, our concentration is diminished and our reaction time is slowed. However, I’ve often thought that the morning after a heavy night of drinking is also probably not a great time to drive. A hangover is a state where the mind isn’t exactly present with reality. In fact, I’ve often considered how much lost potential occurs in our culture due to alcohol consumption, especially heavy alcohol consumption. Just because someone doesn’t have alcohol in their blood, doesn’t mean that the effects of the alcohol haven’t lowered their performance level.
Recent research study addressed hangovers and its morning after influence
It just so happens that a recent research study addressed this very thing, and corroborates the idea that driving or operating heavy machinery while hungover is probably not such a good idea.1
Psychologists conducted memory, attention and psychomotor function tests
A team of psychologists from the University of Bath conducted memory, attention and psychomotor function tests including coordination and reaction time among individuals the day after drinking. None of the participants had alcohol in their blood during the tests, though they all performed poorly on the tests. The study underlines the importance of being aware how the effects of alcohol may last longer than we’d like to believe culturally.
Most workplaces don’t consider previous nights drinking impacting performance
Most workplaces have strict policies surrounding intoxication on the job, or while performing work related tasks, but they may not be considering the degree to which previous nights of drinking may be impacting performance. This may be especially relevant to occupations such as heavy machinery operators or drivers who rely on cognitive function to maintain safety for countless other people as well as themselves.
A serious economic drain
Hangovers are a serious economic drain as well. It is estimated that hangovers cost the UK around 1.9 billion annually mainly due to absenteeism. Not showing up for work is a major side effect of alcohol consumption.
Hangovers can have serious consequences in day to day performances
Dr Sally Adams, senior author explained that this study shows that hangovers can have serious consequences in day to day performances such as “driving and workplace skills.” It can affect memory and concentration she added. She said, “These findings also highlight that there is a need for further research in this field where alcohol hangover has implications at the individual level in terms of health and wellbeing, but also more widely at the national level for safety and the economy.”’
- Gunn C, Mackus M, Griffin C, Munafò MR, Adams S. A Systematic Review of the Next-Day Effects of Heavy Alcohol Consumption on Cognitive Performance. Addiction. 2018.
Photo by Issam Hammoudi on Unsplash
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.