If you’ve ever thought that a glass of champagne hits you faster than, say, beer, you’re not imagining it. It turns out there’s a reason why a single toast at your friend’s wedding can leave your head spinning.
Boris Tabakoff at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told NPR, “Some of the dizziness you can feel after champagne is due to both the brain getting [a little] less oxygen and also the [effects] of the alcohol at the same time.”
Blame it on the bubbles. All of those bubbles in sparkling wine and champagne are nothing more than carbon dioxide. C02 competes with oxygen in our bloodstream, explains Tabakoff, a researcher on the effects alcohol has on the body.
The science behind it is pretty simple. Carbon dioxide increases the pressure in your stomach, which in turn, forces the alcohol out through the lining of your stomach where it’s absorbed right into your bloodstream — faster than other adult beverages, according to The Naked Scientist.
So if staying on your feet this New Year’s Eve is on the agenda, sip that bubbly slowly. And if avoiding a hangover is important, too, try swapping every other glass of champagne with a glass of water. Alternating beverages can help slow down your consumption and help prevent the dehydration that usually comes with a festive night of drinking.
Tabakoff told NPR that when you first start drinking, a hormone that controls your body’s water balance is kicked off kilter. This anti-diuretic hormone sends you straight to the ladies’ or men’s room. All of body flushing can leave you with a pounding headache come a.m.
But dehydration isn’t the only cause to blame for a wicked hangover. “High levels of alcohol in the brain have fairly recently been shown to cause neuro-inflammation, basically, inflammation in the brain,” Tabakoff said. This is why ibuprofen and aspirin can make us feel a bit better.
Champagne might sound like more trouble than it’s worth, but you’re not off the hook with other alcoholic beverages either. Wine, beer and cocktails — as you know by now — can all cause nasty hangover effects, too. The only way to guarantee no hangover hampers your morning is to skip alcohol entirely. But considering New Year’s Eve is the most popular drinking day of the year, that’s likely not going to happen this holiday.
Prevent that horrible headache
Whatever you drink, just remember to pace yourself, and use one drink per hour as a rule of thumb. “We can get rid of most of the alcohol we drink if we limit drinking to one drink per hour,” Tabakoff said. This can be adjusted slightly for smaller or larger people. And alternate with glasses of water.
Make sure you have a good meal before you start the festivities. “Food is very good for the purpose of slowing absorption of alcohol.” Even liquid calories from sugary drinks like Coke have been found to slow down levels of impairment more than sugar free mixers like Diet Coke.
Remember that one drink is less than you might think — it’s 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or one shot of liquor.
And try to get plenty of sleep. If you’ve been out all night, this might seem like a no-brainer, but only a good night sleep can help your body recover from the fatigue and irritability associated with hangovers.
Here’s to a headache-free Happy New Year!