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bloodstream. Ethanol can then pass freely into the nerve cells of the brain, causing a chemical reac- tion that induces pleasur- able feelings. It also allows a decrease in inhibitions by depressing frontal lobe func- tion which can then lead to poor judgment and the in- ability to think clearly. Mo- tor pathways are inhibited leading to decreased coordi- nation. Blood sugar is pro- cessed less effi ciently by the brain. With greater alcohol consumption, sedating ef- fects develop. Dehydration and electro-


lyte imbalance: The pituitary gland in your brain secretes a hormone, vasopressin, which causes your kidneys to absorb water. Ethanol blocks the secretion of va- sopressin causing water to bypass your kidneys and go straight to the bladder re- sulting in increased urina- tion and dehydration. When you urinate excessively, you lose water and electrolytes, specifi cally potassium and sodium. Loss of water and electrolytes can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headache. The greater the level of dehydration, the worse the hangover is the following day. Hypoglycemia (low blood


sugar): The body tightly regulates circulatory lev- els of blood glucose (blood sugar). The liver


attempts


metabolize the ethanol by using stored glucose (glyco- gen). Glucose is the primary source of fuel for the brain. If the liver is busy using glu-


cose stores to detoxify the blood then there is less avail- able glucose for the brain and body to use for energy. This can result in fatigue, decreased precision and ac- curacy, weakness and mood disturbances such as anxi- ety, irritability, depression and diffi culty concentrating for up to 72 hours. Sleep-wake cycle: Alco- hol-induced sleep is not as benefi cial as sober sleep for several reasons. Although many people


fall asleep


more quickly after drinking, alcohol induced sleep tends to be of shorter duration and of lower quality. As blood alcohol content decreases, you experience a rebound excitation which leads to in- somnia. Less time is spent in a dream state (rapid eye movement or REM) and in- creased time in deep sleep (slow wave sleep). REM sleep is the stage of sleep where you dream and it is believed to be restorative. A decrease in REM sleep con- tributes to drowsiness and poor concentration the fol- lowing day.7 Sympathetic hyperactiv-


ity: The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated during a hangover. The SNS is the part of the nervous system that is responsible for getting the body ready in a crisis, sometimes re- ferred to as the “fi ght or fl ight” response. When the SNS is activated, it results in increased blood pres- sure, increased heart rate, increased sweating and tremors, none of which is


desirable while training or competing. The body also produces the hormone cor- tisol which exacerbates the stress response. It produc- es a “jet lag” feeling that causes


fatigue and inter-


feres with concentration. Gastrointestinal Tract: Al-


cohol increases pancreatic and intestinal secretions as well as the gastric acid con- centration in your stomach. These act as irritants to the stomach lining and intes- tines resulting in nausea/ vomiting and stomach pain. Muscle


body composition: Alcohol interferes with the night- time secretion of growth hormone. Growth hormone is important for bone growth and protein synthesis. Long term, this has implications for impaired muscle devel- opment. Drinking can also increase your percentage of body fat as ethanol tend to be stored as fat.


How little is enough impact the next day? Frustratingly, the answer


to this question is “it de- pends.”


In general, large


quantities of alcoholic bev- erages combined with very little sleep will result in the most severe hangovers. Be- cause the effects of a hang- over can last up to 72 hours, most sources recommend not drinking beyond low-lev- el social drinking for at least 48 hours prior to an event.


Conclusion Despite the lack of con-


sensus among athletes re- garding alcohol’s impact on shooting performance, the evidence seems clear that drinking above the low so- cial level has the potential to negatively affect key areas of performance for up to 72 hours.


Recommendations for athletes


NCAA recommendations


for low-level social drinking are one drink a day for wom- en and two drinks per day for men. One drink equals one 12-ounce beer, fi ve ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. ACSM recommendations


for athletes are: 1. Follow team rules and guidelines.


synthesis and


2. Pre-event: Avoid al- cohol beyond low- amount social drink- ing for 48 hours.


3. Post-exercise: Rehy- drate fi rst and con- sume food to retard alcohol absorption.


USA Shooting team policy


states that athletes should use common sense and act responsibly with respect to alcohol consumption. Dave Johnson, Director of Opera- tions, states, “USA Shooting expects athletes to do all that they can to maximize their performance. Any irre- sponsible use of alcohol will not be tolerated and will re- sult in loss of team support.”


References 1. Hangover Headache. http://bit.ly/1BR6BPO Date accessed 10/21/2014. 2. American College of Sports Medicine, Current Comment: Alcohol and Athletic Performance. Date accessed 1/26/2015. 3. Time for a stiff drink, Washington Post http://wapo.st/1ysI4BM Date accessed 10/20/1014. 4. Business Insider: What Happens To Your Body During A Hangover. http://read.bi/1GIbYWi Date accessed 10/20/1014. 5. Alcohol and athletic perfor- mance. http://bit.ly/1PJI1b4 Date accessed February 9, 2015. 6. Alcohol Hangover. http://abt.cm/1FHbgmu Date accessed February 9, 2015. 7


. Alcohol and a Good Night’s Sleep Don’t Mix. http://wb.md/1E0noEsDate accessed February 12, 2015. May 2015 | USA Shooting News 53


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