Heavy Drinking Affects Decision Making the Following Day
Node Smith, ND
A new study from psychologists at the University of Bath highlights the true impact of heavy drinking on our ability to plan, set goals and make decisions the following day. Published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, the study provides new evidence as to why hangovers cost the wider economy so much.
The far reaching economical effects of hangovers
A recent report, which involved the same team, found that hangovers cost the UK economy £1.4 billion a year in wasted productivity, including people working while hungover.
The latest study involved thirty-five 18 to 30-year-olds who had reported experiencing a hangover at least once in the past month. Individuals completed measures which assessed their ability to switch attention between tasks, to update and process information from multiple sources and to guide and plan behavior, while experiencing a hangover.
Few studies have explored how hangover effects key cognitive processes
Their findings show how, when hungover, individuals have a reduced ability to retain information in their short-term memory — for example retaining a telephone number whilst taking a message at the same time. They also highlight impairments when it comes to individuals’ ability to switch attention between tasks and focus on a goal.
Few studies have explored how hangover effects key cognitive processes, the so-called ‘core executive functions’, which we use in daily life to plan, set goals and make decisions.
Lead author Craig Gunn of Bath’s Department of Psychology explained: “We know that hangovers can have a big economic cost, but we did not know how hangover affects our ability to switch attention from one task to another, update information in our mind, and maintain focus on set goals. Our study asked participants to complete tasks measuring these processes when they had a hangover and again when they had not consumed alcohol. The results suggest that all of these processes are impaired by a hangover, which could have consequences for other aspects of our lives.”
Senior author, Dr Sally Adams from the Addiction & Mental Health Group at the University of Bath added: “Anecdotally, we may experience reduced performance of daily tasks when we are hungover such as planning activities and dividing our attention between several tasks. Our data show that this impairment is likely the result of reduced capability in several core executive functions, which are important for tasks such as workplace performance and driving.”
These findings could also have important implications during the current lockdown situation suggest authors
The authors suggest these findings could also have important implications during the current lockdown situation. Earlier this month, Alcohol Change UK estimated that 8.6 million adults in the UK were drinking more frequently. Those drinking heavily at home are at increased risk of experiencing a hangover the next day, which may impact their ability and productivity when working at home.
1. Craig Gunn, Graeme Fairchild, Joris C. Verster, and Sally Adams. The Effects of Alcohol Hangover on Executive Functions. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 2020 DOI: 10.3390/jcm9041148
Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Humboldt, Saskatchewan and associate editor and continuing education director for NDNR. His mission is serving relationships that support the process of transformation, and that ultimately lead to healthier people, businesses and communities. His primary therapeutic tools include counselling, homeopathy, diet and the use of cold water combined with exercise. Node considers health to be a reflection of the relationships a person or a business has with themselves, with God and with those around them. In order to cure disease and to heal, these relationships must be specifically considered. Node has worked intimately with many groups and organizations within the naturopathic profession, and helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic Revitalization (ANR), which works to promote and facilitate experiential education in vitalism.