Consuming alcohol is a widely accepted practice all over the world. It can be seen at the dinner table or at a party, signifying enjoyment or even being used as a coping mechanism for daily stressors.
Even though drinking alcohol is a popular activity, it is technically a drug that affects the human body in numerous ways. The most important organ influenced during a session of drinking is none other than the brain, and it is important to know exactly what that beer or glass of wine is doing to it.
So what is alcohol actually doing to your brain? Let’s find out.
Makes You Less Reserved
After a few drinks, you start feeling like you can do just about anything. At that point, the alcohol has reached your cerebral cortex, making you believe that you are pretty much invincible.
While this is great for suppressing nerves before a karaoke night, it can be extremely dangerous if you start thinking that you can jump off of something without harming yourself.
Increases Sexual Arousal
Once alcohol makes its way to the hypothalamus, your sexual arousal increases. Keep in mind that this is definitely not a surefire way to improve your sex life, since one too many drinks can actually have the opposite effect.
Additionally, while your libido may increase, your sexual performance actually suffers from the alcohol.
Slows the Thought Process
Alcohol makes it difficult for your brain to focus and stay clear. Your mind and thoughts may tend to wander, making it harder for you to complete a simple task or recall a piece of information.
Inhibits Processing of Incoming Information
Your brain processes all of the incoming information collected by your senses. Once a certain amount of alcohol is consumed, vision becomes impaired, which is a direct result from an affected brain. Also, scents and tastes may be more difficult to decipher since your nerve endings are not firing normally.
Throws Off Your Balance
Loss of stability and balance is a common effect from alcohol. This comes from the altered cerebellum, which controls your center of movement. Not only does it make getting around quite difficult, it can lead to serious injury from falling.
When it comes down to it, alcohol is a depressant. This quality combined with overconsumption is why drinking alcohol makes you tired.
When drinking moderately, this effect tends to wear off, but no matter the amount consumed, alcohol does disrupt sleep patterns. You may fall asleep faster, but you aren’t actually getting a full night of sleep, and in turn, drinking can negatively impact sleep disorders.
When you drink too much alcohol, the lack of proper nerve firings in your medulla causes both your breathing and heart rate to slow. This feeling makes it seem like stress is disappearing after a few drinks, but this is a dangerous side effect.
Drastic slowing of the breath is a sure sign of alcohol poisoning, which if left untreated can potentially be fatal.
Decreases Body Temperature
Another symptom stemming from the medulla on alcohol is a decrease in body temperature. Since this part of the brain also controls heart rate and breathing, it is pretty obvious that your core temperature can lower itself.
Again, this side effect is extremely dangerous and can cause death, so it is important to be aware of the amount of alcohol you are consuming in a given time frame.
Alcohol, when used in excess, causes forgetfulness. Since your brain function is impaired, it can be difficult to remember even the simplest bits of information.
Additionally, more severe forms of memory loss can occur in the form of “blacking out.” You become intoxicated to the point that you cannot remember anything within a certain time frame, which is dangerous for obvious reasons.
What to Keep in Mind
It is important to remember how exactly alcohol affects your brain so that you can keep yourself safe at all times. While alcohol consumption is an accepted activity, you are technically poisoning your body with a drug, which as you can see causes many side effects and even potentially permanent damage.
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About the Author: Jenny Matthews is a fitness & health writer with a passion for half-marathons, reading, and volunteering.