Why does the room spin if you lie down after too much alcohol?
Asked by Nicky Sewell via Facebook Having been a student for three years, and with another three years of student life ahead, I feel particularly well placed to answer any ‘Ask a Guru’ question on alcohol. Dizziness, in general, is a result of conflicting information about the location of the head. This information comes mainly from three places: the eyes, the touch receptors (mainly in the feet) and the vestibular system (the ‘balance organs’ in the inner ear). Lying down after drinking excessively affects all three of these balance systems, leading to the sensation of dizziness and the room spinning around. Firstly, lying down means that the back of your body is in contact with the ground, instead of the soles of your feet. Your feet have a much higher concentration of touch receptors and so, by not using them, you are limiting the information available from touch. This is one reason why drunk people often try to steady themselves with both feet firmly planted on the floor and one or both hands on other surfaces (such as the kebab shop counter), thus maximising touch information about the body’s position in relation to its surroundings. Alcohol also affects the other two sources of balance information. While most of us know only too well about the blurring effect that alcohol has on vision, its main effect is on the vestibular system…. The result of acohol intake is that the vestibular system becomes overly sensitive, leading to movement signals being sent to the brain even when the head is still. Hence the room feels as if it is spinning in relation to the head… Read the full answer online (Guru does not encourage irresponsible or excessive drinking. Please be drinkaware and make informed decisions when it comes to drinking alcohol – Ed)
Answer by James Crewdson