The chemical processes involved in a hangover are various and complex, but the culprit linked to post-party fatigue is a lack of glutamine.
Glutamine is an amino acid stored primarily in the muscles and lungs. It is an abundant stimulant in the body, used most often in aiding the immune system and purging excess amounts of ammonia in the body. When it comes to hangovers, though, it is the production of glutamine that wreaks havoc.
Alcohol inhibits the production of glutamine once it enters the bloodstream. This in itself is not a bad thing; it is when the body tries to play catch-up that creates fatigue. Glutamine production revs up after the partying is done and the partier is in bed. The bonus glutamine stimulates the brain and keeps it from achieving a deep sleep.
The effect of being hopped up on glutamine upon waking is fatigue, often punctuated with tremors, anxiety and feelings of restlessness. This diabolical mix of tiredness and scratchy-eyed irritability is known as “glutamine rebound” and can also lead to increased blood pressure, nausea and a host of other ailments.
Since a glutamine rebound is the result of alcohol preventing the production of glutamine, the only real cure is not drinking alcohol, but let’s be realistic; just drinking a bit less than usual will help. The liver processes alcohol at roughly one drink per hour, so if you can manage to drink fewer drinks than hours you have to sleep, you may manage to reap the difference in actual deep sleep, and therefore less fatigue.
Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).