Monday, July 16, 2012

Sleep Drunk?

Okay, I learned something reeeeeaaaally interesting about drinking this weekend. This is the first Monday I've woken up COMPLETELY hangover free in a while. And Saturday and Sunday mornings were good, too - despite the fact I definitely had fun.

This is especially surprising because Saturday night the hubs and I went out for a late Italian dinner and indulged ourselves. I'm sure it was close to 10:30 when we started eating (and drinking) and it was a full meal: appetizers, main course, dessert (a cheesecake de leche that I'm still salivating over even though I probably can't spell it properly), and of course wine. A nice bottle of amarone (the waiter upsold us a bit and it was worth every penny).

Anyway ... after dinner we walked home through the summer night ogling real estate and landscaping. I was definitely tipsy and having fun, but not drunk. And I had some new information that was going to ensure I stayed that way ...

As luck would have it, last week I found a University of Rochester website that has lots of incredible information about alcohol use and abuse.  In an article entitled "Tolerance and Beyond" they described all the different factors that contribute to alcohol absorption rates - both good and bad.

This is what helped me all weekend - we've all heard that eating a big meal before you drink will stop you from getting drunk too fast. But here's some interesting news about that. The reason it works is because when you eat a big meal, the pyloric valve in the very bottom of your stomach closes up so that you can properly digest the food.

If you're drinking with the meal, the alcohol will also be prevented from entering the small intestine - where the majority of alcohol is digested. Some alcohol will be absorbed through the stomach walls, but predominantly that alcohol will not get fully absorbed into your system until 1 to 6 hours after you eat the meal! (There doesn't appear to be any relationship between what you eat and how it affects absorption rates, by the way, fat, protein or carbs.)

This made so much sense to me, it fell on me like a ton of bricks. Eureka!! That totally explains why I sometimes wake up at 4 in the morning feeling sooooo awful. Half drunk, half hungover, nauseous, headachy, yucky to the power of ten. Nothing seems to help the sensation pass but time.

The reason this happens is because ... wow ... after I have a big meal, I think I've got a free ticket to drink even more because of what we've always all known about food slowing down the intoxication process. So I'll often have at least one - often two big glasses of wine AFTER a big meal.

But if I'm eating late at night, like we did on Saturday, that means that all the wine I'm drinking sits in my stomach for sometimes HOURS afterward, not entering the small intestine until the middle of the night ... while I'm already asleep! Which is not only a waste of good wine (who needs to be drunk when they're sleeping?) but it was also what was causing me to feel more hungover and yucky than I felt I should have either in the morning or during those strange, sick rousings in the middle of the night.

So on Saturday, rather than having another big glass or two of wine when we got home, I had a teeny little nightcap of rose ... maybe two or three ounces, tops. I felt positive and happy and in a good mood right up until I went to sleep ... and when I awoke in the morning, I was not hungover! Not even slightly. There was no uncomfortable wake-ups either. I slept right through and woke up feeling great.

So ... if you're wondering why you can be so hungover when a big meal is supposed to curb that ... now you know. You're "wasting" a whole gut of wine and making yourself sick to boot. Do yourself a favor and save it for tomorrow night. Life's not that short.

Source: University of Rochester, "Tolerance and Beyond" -

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