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What is the Connection Between Alcohol and Fatigue?

By Troy Holmes
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Alcohol is a depressant drug that affects the brain and nervous system. This drug dulls the senses, which can effect speaking, walking, and coherent thought. The link between alcohol and fatigue is based on the characteristics of the drug. This drug puts a significant strain on the central nervous system, which causes general fatigue and tiredness. Too much alcohol will cause an individual to sleep or pass out.

Alcoholism is a disease that affects many people throughout the world. This causes an individual to become dysfunctional in his daily life. Most alcoholics suffer from symptoms of fatigue. This is because the body is constantly processing and removing the poisons after alcohol is consumed. The symptoms of alcohol use and fatigue are tightly integrated because alcohol is a harmful chemical for the liver and brain, which causes the human body to become stressed.

A hangover is a normal response to excessive drinking, which typically occurs many hours after alcohol consumption. The symptoms of a hangover include nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. These ailments can continue for several hours, while the alcohol processes through the organs of the human body. Alcohol and fatigue have a cause-and-effect relationship because drinking too much alcohol will generate fatigue in most people.

As alcohol is a depressant, it generates symptoms of fatigue. Many studies have shown that alcohol has a disrupting effect on sleep patterns. This has a direct correlation to symptoms of fatigue throughout the day. A human being typically requires six to eight hours of quality sleep on a daily basis. Alcohol can reduce this sleep by nearly 50 percent.

When an alcoholic begins a treatment program, he can expect extreme symptoms of fatigue. Alcohol and fatigue go hand-in-hand during the withdrawal portion of the rehabilitation process. Other symptoms include sleeplessness, body shakes, and mood disorders. Because the body as become accustomed to excessive drinking, it must relearn how to function without these chemicals. This can take several weeks before the symptoms subside.

Adrenal fatigue can also be linked to alcohol and fatigue symptoms. This is a hypoglycemic condition that causes an individual to drink excessively or use drugs that may produce a high. Because alcohol is a quick carbohydrate, as it is ingested, it has an immediate effect on the body’s blood sugar. This causes a internal sugar bounce effect that typically makes an individual crave more alcohol. If a person is diagnosed with adrenal fatigue he should avoid alcohol because it worsens the effects on the adrenal glands.

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Discussion Comments
By lighth0se33 — On Dec 24, 2012

My best friend started drinking heavily after her husband died. She somehow made it to work each day, but she was in a state of constant fatigue.

She would drink from the time she got home until she fell asleep. She would keep a glass of scotch on her nightstand.

She always looked tired, and she never had the energy to do anything other than what she had to in order to survive. She finally got help and kicked the habit, and her energy returned.

By DylanB — On Dec 24, 2012

I've seen alcohol cause depression and fatigue in my uncle. He has a few drinks at the Christmas party every year, and he gets really down and starts talking about how sad his life is.

Not long after that, he passes out on the couch. When he wakes up, he isn't as depressed, but he does have a bad headache.

By kylee07drg — On Dec 23, 2012

@OeKc05 – I find it strange that though alcohol alone does keep me from sleeping very well, cold medicines with alcohol in them really knock me out for the night. They are designed to make you sleep through your symptoms.

I suppose it must be the combination of an antihistamine, a decongestant, a pain reliever, and alcohol that does the trick. Like you, I can't sleep if I've just had an alcoholic drink, but I will be out for hours with just one dose of the medicine containing alcohol.

Another difference between the two is that after taking the medicine and sleeping, I feel refreshed and better the next day. After trying to sleep off alcohol, I feel really tired and groggy the following day.

By OeKc05 — On Dec 22, 2012

I didn't know that alcohol was a cause of fatigue, but I did know that it interrupts sleep. I find it very hard to sleep after I have even one drink.

I can feel my heart beating harder, and I guess this is because alcohol raises blood pressure. It puts me in a slight state of panic, like I'm afraid I might have a heart attack in bed.

When I do drift, I don't have deep sleep and dreams. I just keep waking up and feeling really uncomfortable because of my hard heartbeat.

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