Alcohol Disrupts Body Clock, Sleep, Study Demonstrates

Alcohol use can disrupt the body’s natural clock and sleeping patterns for days after consumption ends, according to a new animal study.

Science Daily reported Sept. 1 that a study of hamsters given doses of alcohol found that drinking affects the “master clock” in the brain, hindering its ability to sync the body’s schedule to daylight and darkness and affecting circadian rhythm for days at a time.

This disruption has wide-ranging affects on sleep, appetite, digestion, activity levels, and more. It also may raise the risk of cancer, heart disease, depression, and other illnesses.

Animals in the study exposed to alcohol tended to wake up more slowly when exposed to dim light, had fewer bouts of activity during the day, and woke up earlier than other hamsters when withdrawn from alcohol for 2 to 3 days. The alcohol-using hamsters also were unnaturally active at night.

The study appears in the September 2009 issue of the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

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