Why Does Alcohol Make You Sleepy?

After having some drinks, many people feel really sleepy. The feeling of sleepiness makes you less aware of your surroundings and unable to react to the external environment in a timely manner, which can be very dangerous. You may wonder why alcohol will make you sleepy and how to overcome this sleepiness.

Why Does Alcohol Make You Sleepy?

why does alcohol make you sleepy

It is very common to feel sleepy after having alcohol. The alcohol contains a kind of chemical substance called the ethanol which can cross the cell membranes freely. When the blood containing excessive amounts of ethanol reaches the brain, ethanol enters the brain cells where it acts as a central nervous system depressant.

The ethanol can get attached to nerve receptors, and particularly can get attached to glutamate and make it less active. In its active form, glutamate excites the neurons. When it is not active, the neurons are less excitable, therefore the body’s response to external stimuli becomes sluggish and slow. Besides, the ethanol also attaches itself to gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and activates the GABA receptors. The activation of these receptors further slows down the brain and induces a feeling of calm, leading to somnolence. Why does alcohol make you sleepy? These are the reasons.

How to Sober Up When You Feel Sleepy

1. Stop Drinking

The first thing you can do is to stop consuming more alcohol. The liver has a capacity to metabolize one unit of alcohol per hour, if you have consumed ten units of alcohol, the body will need ten hours to completely wash it out of your system. Give your liver adequate time to detoxify before having another drink.

2. Drink Water

Drink plenty of water, which will make your blood more diluted so that the alcohol content of blood will decrease. Drinking more water will also increase your urine output, and the excessive alcohol will be flushed out of your body more quickly, therefore it can help you sober up.

3. Splash Water on Your Face

Why does alcohol make you sleepy and what can you do to sober up? Splashing some cold water on face will refresh you. It does not decrease the alcohol levels in your blood but it can certainly help to make you think more clearly.

4. Try Vomiting

Being sick can actually help to get rid of extra alcohol. Do not force yourself for a vomit, but if you are feeling sick, throwing up is a good option.

5. Have Something to Eat

Alcohol gets absorbed quickly if you have an empty stomach. Foods can act as the sponge and slow down the absorption of alcohol. If you feel sleepy after drinking, eating something will help you sober up.

6. Drink Coffee

Caffeine is a very good stimulant which can help to sharpen your reflexes. It also speeds up the metabolism and acts as a diuretic, making our bodies flush alcohols out more quickly. 

7. Do Exercises

If you want to counter the sleepy feeling induced by alcohol, get active and do some quick exercise. Have a little jog, do a few crunches or try other short exercises. This will make you more alert, and you will feel more in control of yourself after some exercise.

How to Prevent Being Sleepy

Why does alcohol make you sleepy? Now you know the answer. Here are a few things you can do to avoid being sleepy:

  • Never drink different types of alcohol in one go. Regardless of the quality of alcohols you are having, it is never a good idea to mix them. If you have to do it, gradually increase the degree of alcohol and have the lighter drinks before the stronger ones.
  • Never drink on an empty stomach. Proteins and fats reduce the absorption of alcohol, so it is a good idea to eat meat, fish, salads with rich oil dressings or potatoes before a night out.
  • Try to have at least half an hour gap between two drinks.
  • Avoid using a straw to drink alcohol. If you do that, the alcohol will start getting absorbed from your mouth and get into blood directly, making you more prone to sleepiness.
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