Do you feel like drinking one beer sometimes is like watching the underdog in the NCAA basketball tournament?  Or maybe you feel like some of Mike Tyson’s (pre-ear incident) opponents.  One drink and you are finished.  Let me start by telling you all that there are many more people who are much more qualified than am I talk about anything medical.  I AM NOT A DOCTOR, and this is not a medical website.  If you feel like you want to add something about some substrata of the endocrine system and its relation to drinking, then go ahead.  I’m only offering some basic thoughts and some very basic science on the topic.  With that out of the way, let’s move on.

First of all, you have to consider if you had a good night of sleep.  If you didn’t sleep well, your body has not had enough REM sleep, which effects brain function.  During sleep you also produce a number of chemicals that are important to function and bodily interaction.  Sleep is also the time when our bodies fight off many residual toxins and other problematic factors.  With lack of sleep, our bodies are not as toxin free as they could be.  When a human is tired, the liver is also less effective at clearing out toxins like alcohol due to a drop in metabolic rate. The same amount of alcohol when tired vs. rested can actually result in a higher BAC for those who are tired.  This doesn’t even take serotonin, insulin, or a number of other things that are replenished during sleep.

Well, maybe you got a good night sleep.  But have you been working physically hard, especially in hot conditions?  The long and short of it is sweat.  Your body’s natural mechanism is sweating through your skin.  As you get hot, your brain tells your organs to move excessive heat to your skin.  Thus, those organs have less blood in them.  In very extreme conditions, this can actually cause death.  Really hot conditions are actually the most fertile ground.  If conditions become too bad, your heart will steal blood from your small intestines and will allow more (and dangerous) toxins into your blood stream…and ultimately the heart.  Of course, we are talking not about deadly conditions but abnormal ones, which do affect these things on a small scale.

Since you are sweating and maybe not re-hydrating properly, your body has less water.  Since it has less water, the pituitary gland produces arginine vasopression (I’ve been dying to use that word), which tells the kidney to store water.  However, this raises blood pressure and constricts veins.  Higher flow rate and thinner flow area…fast to the brain. By the way, lack of sleep can cause lack of vasopression, reducing the signal and water kept in the kidneys.

Of course, what you have or haven’t eaten can also cause adverse issues in the consumption of alcohol.  We all know that the body stores energy in fat.  When the body has not had enough energy, it begins to eat away at the reserve and metabolize that which is not food.  So, your metabolic rate actually begins to reduce in order to retard the process of using up stored energy.  You are simply not able to deal with the alcohol as quickly as you might normally have been.

There is much more boring stuff that could be said about this by much wiser men than I, but I’ll conclude by saying that one, if not all three, of these criteria have come into play when drinking.  I think the above are are three good reasons why one beer can feel like five.