Whether you’re happy to throw back any old beer or are dedicated to discovering every flavorful detail of the fanciest Spanish gin, you’ve probably accumulated a fair few assumptions about alcohol over the years. The thing is, many of these assumptions are far from accurate. To ensure you have your facts straight, let’s take a look at the truth behind five common beliefs about alcohol.
1. Does coffee sober you up?
Coffee will certainly improve alertness and may even help with your coordination and motor skills. However, it’s important to understand that these effects are not because the coffee is “sobering you up.” It takes time for alcohol to leave your system, not coffee. So, having a cup may help you avoid making a fool out of yourself when drunk, but it does not make you instantly sober enough to drive.
2. Are you killing brain cells when you drink alcohol?
When watching a drunk friend roll around in the gutter or otherwise embarrass themselves, it seems logical to assume that you are witnessing the outward symptoms of brain cell death. However, this (thankfully) isn’t the case.
Alcohol does not kill brain cells. But don’t break out the cheap wine just yet. If consumed with abandon, alcohol can damage your dendrites, and this can leave your brain in a state where your neurons aren’t able to properly communicate with each other. This can lead to a range of cognitive issues, from memory loss to reduced attention span. So, while you’re not killing brain cells with booze, you may be making them less effective.
3. Do different liquors make you differently drunk?
This may be hard to believe, but it’s not the gin making you cry, it’s not the whisky making you aggressive, and it’s not the wine making you giggly. Under controlled laboratory settings, different types of booze do not get you differently drunk.
So, what’s really going on? A complex mix of psychological factors and both personal and social conditioning combine to convince us that different liquors are hitting us in different ways. If you’re told enough times that “tequila makes you crazy,” you’ll have a wild night whenever you drink tequila.
4. Is alcohol a good way to get to sleep?
Whether temporary or long-term, insomnia can be frustrating, and it is true that alcohol can help you fall asleep. The problem is, you won’t be getting good quality sleep. Though you may not be consciously aware of it, alcohol will disrupt your REM sleep and prevent you from achieving deep sleep. So, if you suffer from insomnia, it’s best to look for safe, natural remedies.
5. Should you put someone to bed if they pass out from drinking too much?
This is a tricky one. While you don’t want to panic unnecessarily, it’s important to know that passing out from alcohol is not normal, and your friend is, in fact, in a dangerous situation. The last thing you want to do is put them in bed and leave them to sleep it off.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning it slows down a person’s breathing and heart rate. Not to mention the fact that your friend may throw up while sleeping, creating a choking hazard.
If a friend has passed out, stay with them and monitor their breathing and heart rate. There’s a fine margin between the amount of alcohol it takes to blackout and the amount it takes to kill you. So, don’t hesitate to get them medical attention if you’re concerned.
Keep the above facts in mind the next time you consider knocking back a beer or three!