Thank you for subscribing!
Got it! Thank you!

You’re Not Going to Like What Drinking Alcohol on Flights Does to Your Body, Per New Research

For the many travelers out there whose strategy for getting through long-haul flights is a one-two punch of boozing and snoozing, some German scientists have some bad news. 

A new study conducted by researchers with the German Aerospace Center's Institute of Aerospace Medicine found that the combination of alcohol and reduced air pressure onboard a plane poses a "significant" risk to the health of sleeping passengers—even when the drinking is moderate and the drinkers are young and otherwise healthy. 

What happens, the scientists say, is that alcohol and the drop in atmospheric pressure cause a reduction in the oxygen level of blood as well as an increase in heart rate.

Sleeping during a flight already exacerbates the fall in blood oxygen saturation, according to the study

Throwing in even a moderate level of booze—the simulation for the lab tests used the equivalent of two cans of beer or two glasses of wine—send blood oxygen saturation levels even lower, putting people at risk of something called hypoxemia, which can involve a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, and more serious outcomes, particularly in older people or those with preexisting heart or lung conditions. 

The study found, however, that even young and healthy individuals experienced a "significant strain on the heart" during tests. Larger quantities of alcohol than the amounts analyzed could intensify the effects. And sleep quality suffered, too. 

Eva-Maria Elmenhorst, one of the scientists who led the research, told NBC News that the team was “surprised to see that the effect was so strong.”

The study ends with an eye-opening conclusion: "Our findings strongly suggest that the inflight consumption of alcoholic beverages should be restricted."

Maybe the team's next research project should be coming up with a list of binge-worthy true crime podcasts for us to download ahead of the next flight we're supposed to endure while fully conscious and stone-cold sober. 

You can read the report in the medical journal Thorax—but maybe not on a plane if you're trying to stay awake.