The drink that ages you 12 years

Most of us have suffered through the mind-numbing headache, stomach-turning nausea and disorienting dizziness of a hangover at least once in our lives.

Chalk it up to a learning experience and hopefully, it doesn’t happen again, right? Unfortunately for far too many of us, it does happen again… and even again.

But even one night of heavy drinking takes a terrible toll on your body — and not just the day after. The latest research shows that it could take your body a full four days to recover from the damage you’ve done with one night of overindulgence.

This is your body on binge drinking…

A study sponsored by WHOOP, a company that makes an athletic performance optimization tracker, found that it can take college athletes up to four days to recover physiologically from a night of heavy drinking.

The physiological effects these athletes experienced included things like an increased resting heart rate (their heart was working hard even when they weren’t doing anything physically strenuous) and lower heart rate variability (a longer time between each heartbeat).

Both of these physiological effects are also associated with the aging process. Basically, the older you get, the more likely you are to have an increased resting heart rate and lower heart rate variability. And, based on how a night of heavy drinking affects these two measures, it’s essentially the equivalent of aging yourself 12 years in one night!

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Now, this study was obviously done to show that heavy drinking keeps athletes from performing at their physical best. But, athlete or not, alcohol prevents you from being your physical best too…

When you have a hangover, your body is essentially trying to rid itself of a poison you’ve intentionally ingested (too much alcohol). Detoxing this “poison” puts unnecessary stress on your body, which is why your heart rate and variability suffer. It also causes inflammation, promotes dehydration and hinders your immune system, putting you more at risk for infection and disease.

All of this may explain why your mind and body feel so bad the day after drinking too much. It also explains why alcohol consumption is tied to an increased risk of serious, chronic diseases like cognitive decline, atrial fibrillation, diabetes and liver failure.

Fun vs. a four-day hangover

So is a night of fun worth a four-day hangover? That’s up to you to decide, but I’d say probably not. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a cocktail from time to time. A drink or two per day may even improve your heart health and stroke risk. But throwing back one too many cocktails transforms a potentially healthful practice into a recipe for physical disaster.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!

  1. “The Four-Day Hangover.” Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  2. Breslow. “Alcohol and the Collegiate WHOOP Athlete.” WHOOP, Inc., 2016.
  3. “Inside the ‘Tinderization’ of today’s NBA.” Retrieved March 23, 2017.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and