New Study: Adverse Health Effects of Drinking Alcohol on Planes

June 6, 2024

Please don’t drink alcohol on board of airplanes.

Lead author of a new study on the effects of drinking and napping on airplanes. The author, Dr. Eva-Maria Elmenhorst, deputy of the department of sleep and human factors and leader of the Working Group on Performance and Sleep at the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Germany, warns of lowered oxygen when drinking and napping in the air.

Why It Matters: Researchers in Germany conducted a study in which adults were studied in two different plane-like environments overnight – one group did not have alcohol and the other had the equivalent of two cans of beer or two glasses of wine prior to sleeping. Takeaways? Air pressure on airplanes is lower than typical air pressure on the ground, and that combined with sleep and any level of alcohol consumption increases the risk for a major drop in oxygen saturation in the blood and an increased heart rate while on an airplane. The researchers recommend against drinking any levels of alcohol while flying, noting alcohol in general does not help a person get quality sleep.

Read More: Don’t drink before your nap on the plane. It could hurt you now and later (CNN)

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas