It’s that time of year again where there are social gatherings galore; end of year parties, Christmas parties, people generally getting out and about more as the weather has turned warm with that undeniable excitement that summer is in the air, with holidays just around the corner, another year coming to an end with a new one on the horizon, with friends and family returning to visit from overseas etc. etc. This all creates the perfect environment for the festive season.
Going hand in hand with all this is a tendency to drink more which can lead to frequent hangovers, a feeling of being under the weather, increased fatigue, the sense of burning the candle at both ends and possibly the risk of doing silly things that perhaps we’ll regret later.
The main tip Three Cheers Training has to avert these negatives? DRINK WATER!! – and plenty of it WHILST you’re out drinking alcohol.*
The reason for this is that alcohol is a diuretic, it dehydrates the body. How much? About 120ml per standard drink. A standard drink is defined as a drink that contains approximately 10g of pure alcohol, an example of which is any drink with one shot of vodka in it or a middy of full strength (4.9% alcohol) beer. A glass of wine being about 150mls is 1.4 – 1.6 standard drinks meaning it has approximately 14 to 16 grams of pure alcohol in it. So this above equation means that if you drink a 200ml drink that contains one standard drink, i.e. it has 10g of pure alcohol in it, theoretically you’re going to pass 320ml by going to the toilet. This is because the body basically converts the drink over and then adds on an extra 120mls. Every standard drink you have will dehydrate you 120mls.
One standard drink isn’t too bad but how many standard drinks do you think people have drunk by the end of the night or even 3/4s of the way through it? Let’s say someone has had 10 standard drinks, which makes the maths easy.. This person who has had 10 standard drinks can expect to be dehydrated by approximately 1.2 litres. This is a lot. To make this up you can’t just drink 120mls of water for every standard drink you have, you can’t just order e.g. a vodka and soda in a bigger glass. You have to drink the water separately and drink 240 – 360mls in order for your body to retain the 120mls. (For more on this read here.)
Why’s dehydration a bad thing? Well for one, the headache in a hangover is due mainly to our water based brain actually shrinking as it is dehydrated which subsequently pulls on the pain sensitive filaments that connect it to the skull as it contracts. Dehydration is also linked to increased irritability in people, it leads to decreased cognitive ability i.e. people can’t think as straight as they normally would and also people who are dehydrated are said to have a more negative outlook. Drinking water regularly whilst drinking alcohol helps these negatives caused by dehydration to not happen.
But how do we Stay Hydrated!? A good rule of thumb to achieve this is to have some water every 3rd sip or every Three Cheers, or in other words; drink water regularly. It’s no good to say that you always drink a big bottle of water before you go to bed after a big night out.
The great thing about all this is that staying hydrated actually makes the occasion more enjoyable. You’ll still enjoy the effects of the alcohol but you’ll be more present to them. You’ll also be more in control, more coherent. You should be able to self-manage much better.
It can be difficult to remember to do this, to have water regularly or to aim to do it once you’re out and about. The reason for this is that the first part of the brain that gets effected by alcohol is the frontal lobe which is called the “Executive Centre” of the brain, this is where we have our conscience and our self-control. There is decreased brain wave activity in this frontal lobe within 10 minutes of our first sip of alcohol which means we begin to act more emotionally and impulsively within this short amount of time. We also begin to lose our inhibitions. To illustrate this quick effect of alcohol I often ask trainees going through our course; “Have you ever just gone out for 2 drinks and ended up being out the whole night?” To which most people smilingly nod yes. This is because we’re making different decisions with a little bit of alcohol in our system than what we do with a sober mind. To reiterate, our decisions become more based on emotion and we aslo begin to act more impulsively.
This frontal lobe is THE REASON WHY it’s so beneficial for staff at licensed venues to have gone through Three Cheers Training’s ‘Special Alcohol Management Service’ course. In our course venue staff are trained in, among other things, the best ways to help keep their patrons hydrated in the most polite, hospitable way.
So this is the main tip Three Cheers Training is giving for the silly season and all alcohol drinking occasions in general.. STAY HYDRATED!! Have water every 3rd sip or every Three Cheers!
Wishing you all a safe and enjoyable festive season!
*Remember to drink in moderation. Simply drinking water does not mean it is safe to over indulge however drinking water should allow you to self-manage much better so that you won’t go overboard in the first place. Remember too to eat a substantial meal before drinking or early on in the occasion.