The effects of alcohol on your studies

Alcohol effects memory 

Drinking too much can have serious consequences on your ability to learn and retain information.  Scientists have found that alcohol affects the ability of the hippocampus (part of the brain) to turn short-term memories into long-term memories.  This is best exemplified when someone drinks way too much and experiences a "black out"... where that person can't recall certain events the night they were drinking heavy. Specifically, alcohol turns off certain neurons that forms long-term memories. 

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as just not drinking when your studying. Memory formation is a complex process and takes a long time. Many of your memories are solidified when you are not thinking about the material. In fact, much of memory formation occurs while you sleep. Alcohol effects your sleep cycle by disrupting the sequence and duration of normal sleep, reducing your brains ability to learn and retain information. Even drinking up to six hours before you go to sleep will negatively effect your sleep cycle, reducing your ability to retain information you learned or studied that day.

Dr. Jensen, a nationally recognized neurologist and author of the Teenage Brain, cites scientific studies showing students who participate in sporadic heavy drinking perform worse on tests of verbal and nonverbal memory than students who do not drink, and girls in particular exhibit poorer visual-spatial functioning.  Adolescent boys who drink show greater deficits in attention, such as being able to focus on something that might be slightly boring for a sustained period of time (aka any form of studying).  Dr. Susan Tapert, a psychiatrist at the University of California, says that the magnitude of difference between those who drink too much and those who do not is about 10 percent, which she likens to the difference between an A and a B on an exam.