The Sobering Physiology Behind Hangovers

In a sober TED-Ed lesson written by Judy Griesel and animated by Anton Bogaty, narrator Alexandra Panzer explains the physiology behind hangovers.

Discover how alcohol impacts your body’s processes and causes hangovers, and find out what causes the most common hangover symptoms.

Ever since an unwitting chimpanzee accidentally discovered the pleasures of ingesting alcohol, scientists have been dealing with the aftereffects of ethanol in an effort to understand which symptoms are caused by different types of spirits, how physical attributes of the drinker contribute to these effects, and if there is a way to help people avoid hangovers altogether. Unfortunately, that latter piece of research remains elusive, as alcohol disrupts so many of the body’s processes.

Alcohol impacts so many of the body’s processes, throwing delicate balances off-kilter. …For example, alcohol disrupts levels of many hormones. One of those hormones is cortisol. …So the disruption in cortisol during a hangover may cause people to feel groggy or disoriented. Another hormone alcohol interferes with is vasopressin, which normally decreases the volume of urine made by the kidneys. By decreasing levels of vasopressin, alcohol causes people to pee more and become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to thirst, dry mouth, weakness, lightheadedness, and headache…

Hangover Headache