Restorations Therapy Blog

What Happens to Our Brains When Hungover

by on Monday, September 9th, 2019

We may have seen or experienced hangovers before, but we do not know what it is about alcohol that causes us to feel that way. Researchers at Brown University and the University of Baths did a study that showed what the brain looks like during a hangover. By knowing what is happening to your brain when hungover, this will show you how dangerous it is to consume large amounts of alcohol in one night.

Over-Excited Brain

Alcohol is a sedative that depresses the brain. Once the alcohol metabolizes and disappears, the depressed brain goes on the rebound and is excited. Alcohol has a chain reaction towards glutamate which is an excitatory neurotransmitter that alcohol causes to not work well. When the effects of alcohol wear off, the glutamate receptors over-react as a result. GABA is another neurotransmitter that is affected that regulates brain activity. After drinking, the body decreases the number and sensitivity of GABA receptors. While you may feel fatigued, the brain is actually over-excited which explains why people with hangovers are sensitive to light and sound.

Alcohol Impacts the Brain’s Hormone Production

The reason why you feel dehydrated during a hangover is because of the impact your brain suffered from. Vasopressin is an anti-diuretic hormone that is synthesized in a different part of the brain. Alcohol stops its production which causes you to urinate more. You tend to urinate more than the alcohol you consumed. This explains why your mouth is dry and your head hurts.

Brain Has Higher Inflammation Levels

Having a hangover can mean that your body is experiencing immune system issues. Alcohol activates microglia which are immune system cells and that causes them to release inflammatory cytokines. Overall inflammation levels in the brain are raised which contribute to the flu-like symptoms of a hangover. If inflammatory compounds get into the bloodstream, it can produce inflammation and the compounds getting into the brain will activate the microglia, leading to an irritable brain.

Bad Biological Clock

Alcohol interferes with the body’s clock that tells us when to wake up and sleep controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Your biological clock will be off because you did not sleep when you were supposed to. It is important to remember that when you are experiencing a hangover, these symptoms are temporary. The best way to never experience a hangover again is to get yourself into treatment to stop drinking and be healthy.

Located in Centennial, Colorado, Restoration Therapy works with patients who are struggling with addiction, intimacy disorders, and trauma who are seeking treatment. In order to offer patients a more holistic view on healthy sexuality, Restoration Therapy offers individualized and group therapy, workshops, psycho-educational classes, and more to restore the harm brought on by addiction and intimacy issues. For more information, please call us at (720) 446-6585 as we are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

About Kyle Beard

Chris Simon founded Restorations Therapy Center to help those struggling with sexual addiction to discover health and wholeness for themselves as well as for their marriage and family. The havoc addiction brings is not compartmentalized to one area of life, but influences marriage, family, work, friendship and more. Chris experienced the turmoil of addiction in his own life. Through his own recovery journey, he strives to help others in the throes of addiction to experience the freedom and joy he lives today. Chris received in Masters of Arts in Clinical Mental Health, working solely with individuals struggling with sexual addiction his entire career. He trained under Dr. Tom Olschner, a psychologist working with sexual addictions for over thirty years, gaining a breadth of experience and knowledge from a renown therapist. A Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) is the only certification in existence for sexual addiction recovery, which Chris has pursued with fervor. You can contact Chris via email at or telephone at (720) 446-6585

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