Impairments from heavy drinking continue long after alcohol leaves bloodstream

BATH, England — Still struggling to get your bearings in the office after a wild Saturday night out or a boozy Sunday brunch? Some of the cognitive effects of heavy drinking on the weekend may linger with you when you return to work, a study by the University of Bath finds.

The study details the impairments we still carry even when there is little to no alcohol in our bloodstream.

In addition to dealing with a pounding headache, researchers say people still suffer from poor attention and memory, as well as limited psychomotor skills — such as coordination and speed — compared to when not hungover. This latest research shows that hungover individuals are likely still cognitively impaired when trying to drive the day after a night of heavy drinking, or when showing up to work.

The research involved a meta-analysis of 770 articles on the subject.

“In our review of 19 studies we found that hangover impaired psychomotor speed, short and long term memory and sustained attention. Impaired performance in these abilities reflects poorer concentration and focus, decreased memory and reduced reaction times the day after an evening of heavy drinking,” says lead author Craig Gunn, of the university’s Department of Psychology, in a release. “Our review also indicated limited and inconsistent research on alcohol hangover and the need for future studies in the field”.

Hangovers, the most commonly reported negative consequence of alcohol use in the United Kingdom, already costs the country’s economy an estimated 1.9 billion pounds in absenteeism every year.

The authors are now hoping to study the true health and economic costs of hangovers, along with the next-day consequences following a night of binge drinking.

The study was published in the journal Addiction.

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