How to Get Over a Hangover - Fast & Easy!
Hangovers suck. That might not be the most eloquent sentiment, but it’s one we can all agree to be true. The problem is that drinking can be a lot of fun. You don’t want to have to choose between good times and misery, but it seems an inevitable conundrum. Here’s the deal. There are ways to beat a hangover. Calling them cures might be overselling, but you can at least take the edge off of next-day suffering. That’s what we’re going to cover in depth. These are the best tips for getting over a hangover as quickly, painlessly and easily as possible.
The things you do before you drink can be just as important as what you do after. This is not meant to be a checklist. You can mix and match the suggestions as you see fit. Each one of these ideas bears its own impact on how your hangover manifests, and not everything is ideal for everyone (except the first idea).
It’s the first suggestion for a reason. Probably half of the symptoms you feel during a hangover stem from dehydration. The headache, grogginess and other ill effects are all related to a shortage of water inside your body. You already know that you should drink water throughout the night of drinking, but that’s damage control. If you go into the night properly hydrated, then you start from a better point, and your drinking lows won’t be so bad.
It’s like giving your drunk body a handicap. You start off with more water, so your peak dehydration shouldn’t be as bad as if you’re already short on water when you start your night of debauchery.
There’s an added bonus to hydrating before you start your heavy drinking. It fills you up. When you’re hydrated (and potentially have a full stomach), you’ll be less thirsty, and it will likely slow down your alcohol consumption. That’s a twofer for reducing your hangover.
Take Preventative Supplements
Some people suggest a preemptive dose of ibuprofen or aspirin (or whatever). That may or may not work, but it’s not what we’re suggesting. There are supplements that you can take before drinking that supposedly lessen the severity of hangovers. Some of these are more scientifically justifiable than others. You’ll have to research a little further to decide what supplements you’re into.
Any supplement that helps with water retention can reduce dehydration that typically afflicts a hangover. For research purposes, these are the opposite of diuretics. The idea is to pee less, thus losing less water over the course of your drinking escapades.
Water retention is only part of the issue. There are plenty of hangover symptoms that aren’t caused by dehydration. The metabolic processes involved in breaking down alcohol and other substances in your adult beverages can create toxic byproducts. Those byproducts make you feel sick, bloated, gross and hungover. Supplements that can aid in the processing of alcohol may reduce hangover symptoms.
One group of supplements that people swear by is essential amino acids. You may have heard of L Lysine. It’s the most common essential amino acid supplement. It does a lot of things, and some of those things include synthesizing proteins. That’s what your liver has to do in order to deal with the alcohol you drink. It is theorized (but not scientifically proven) that an L Lysine supplement can give your liver an easy time dealing with liquor. That doesn’t mean you’ll be less drunk, but it might help your body deal with all of the toxicity involved in drinking.
If you do additional research, you’ll see a bunch of claims about supplements curing a hangover. Keep your skeptic hat on and don’t trust anything that can’t link to real scientific research.
While You Drink
You’ve done your prep work. Now, you’re ready to get to the party. These tips are intended to help you reduce your impending hangover after you already start drinking, but before you’re floored the next day.
Reach for the Bottom Shelf
Some interesting research has shown a link between hangover symptoms and congeners. What are congeners? It’s good of you to ask. Congeners are products in alcoholic beverages that are tough on your body. They include a pretty large group of organic chemicals, but one you might recognize is ethanol. Rather than take you through a grueling lesson in organic chemistry, we’ll skip to the easy explanation.
For the most part, congeners are left in alcoholic drinks because they add body and depth to the flavor of the beverage. They’re most common in richly flavored wines, top-shelf liquor, and whiskey. Pretty much all whiskey has tons of congeners.
Here’s the issue. Congeners can be processed by your liver, but when they are, they result in new toxic chemicals. A common byproduct of imbibing congeners is the production of formaldehyde. That’s one of the key ingredients that makes you feel sick and/or nauseated after a night of drinking.
In order to skip this whole gross process, you can stick to drinking low-shelf liquors, cheap beers and the three hard drinks that don’t add congeners: vodka, gin, and rum. Keeping all of that in mind, it turns out that there are two common beliefs that hold some merit. Wine hangovers really are worse than beer hangovers. Also, broke college kids tend to have lighter hangovers in part because they drink cheaper drinks. Science is always fascinating!
In addition to cutting congeners from your lineup, you also want to drink plenty of water while you’re boozing it up. You already know this, and we aren’t going to completely rehash what you already understand. Hydration is important; yada, yada, yada. What we do want to emphasize is that drinking water will slow your liquor intake. We’ll go into that more in a second, but it’s pretty obvious. Less alcohol will always equate to a smaller hangover. And, drinking water is important in general.
There’s a small, additional reason you want to drink water. Alcohol is a diuretic. It’s going to break the seal eventually, but you can’t keep pissing if you run out of water in your system. When you keep the urine flowing, you increase the amount of alcohol (and other bad stuff) that leaves your body through the bladder. This reduces strain on the liver, and it cuts down on those sickening byproducts. Drinking water doesn’t eliminate the liver’s part in all of this, but any small improvement is still an improvement.
Get Less Drunk
Yes, we’re stating the obvious. This isn’t about teaching you how alcohol causes hangovers. Instead, we need to talk about taming the drunken beast. Once you have a solid buzz going, it’s easy to say “screw it!” to tomorrow and just keep drinking. Finding a way to trick drunk you out of that bad decision is the ultimate key to defeating hangovers.
Everyone finds their own tricks, but if you have no ideas, we’re going to talk about water one more time. If you pound the mantra of drinking water into your brain, even your drunk self will be influenced. Every glass of water you imbibe while drunk is an alcoholic beverage you never consume. That’s a great way to beat the hangover.
Drinking water is not the only trick in the book, but you’ll have to do some self-reflection to come up with more ideas to drink less after you get into party mode.
The Next Day
You’re in it now. Whether or not you took preventative measures, this is where the hangover hits. All of these tips are designed to help you ease the burden and survive your hangover.
Sleep is your very best friend for handling hangovers. While drunk sleep is objectively less restful than sober sleep, it allows your body to process alcohol and focus on recovery without distraction or interruption. Plus, you can’t drink any more once you’re passed out. Part of getting good sleep during your hangover involves planning. Don’t party hard unless you can sleep in the next morning. It’s pretty normal advice.
Since your hangover symptoms won’t bother you much while you sleep, make it your primary weapon of choice. Once you can’t sleep anymore, there’s a good chance that your hangover symptoms are actually different problems in disguise. We’ll be discussing those too.
Eat Some Breakfast
Everyone has their hangover breakfast that they swear by. The truth is that there is no magic food that cures hangovers. Instead, eating at all is the key. It’s very common to have low blood sugar after a night of drinking. You tend to sleep in late. Plus, you may have gone abnormally long without food the previous day in order to save room for more booze. We’ve done it too.
Low blood sugar causes fatigue, headaches, and nausea. Those all sound like classic hangover symptoms. If you can get some food in your belly, the blood sugar contributions to your misery will go away. You still might have fatigue, headaches, and nausea, but they at least won’t be compounded by multiple root causes.
Sometimes, you just don’t want to eat when you’re in the throes of suffering. This is a war you have to learn to fight against yourself. If solid food is out, consider liquid foot. A breakfast shake or anything comparable can fix your blood sugar with a lot less strain on the gut. If that’s too much, even a glass of juice will take the edge off. The idea is to get some calories into your system. They don’t have to be greasy. They don’t have to fit much of a mold at all. As long as you can digest it, food is what you need.
Hair of the Dog
It’s the oldest trick in the book, but does a drink during a hangover actually work? It turns out that there is some science on the side of the hair of the dog. Do you remember when we talked about congeners? Methanol is one of those, and it primarily breaks down into formaldehyde when it’s processed by the liver. Other congeners turn into other substances you don’t want in your body.
Here’s where things get interesting. Alcohol in your bloodstream actually helps your body dissolve the congeners. That helps them leave through the kidneys instead of being broken down in the liver. When you piss out the congeners, you don’t turn them into the toxic chemicals that make you feel sick.
So, here are some things to know to make the hair of the dog truly work. First of all, you absolutely do not need to drink whatever you had last night. What you want is a little bit of alcohol in your bloodstream with as few new congeners as possible. A shot of vodka is about ideal.
Second, you don’t want to drink enough alcohol to get drunk all over again. We’ll skip the lecture on substance abuse (this time). If you drink enough to get a new buzz, then you’re just repeating the cycle, rather than curing the hangover. A little bit of alcohol is enough. You should still be able to drive and/or operate heavy machinery. If not, you went too far.
Lastly, you need water in your system for this to work. The goal is to piss out the congeners. That won’t happen if you’re still dehydrated, which brings us to the final tip.
Yes, we’re harping on this. Water is still the ultimate tool in combating hangovers. You already know the reasons to drink water, but that doesn’t mean drunk you did a good job of it. Once you got belligerent, you probably fought the good fight against drinking more water. Hopefully, you have a good friend who tricked you into downing a few glasses, but if that didn’t happen, you’re starting hangover morning with a fun dose of dehydration. You need to beat dehydration to cure those symptoms. You also need water to process the food and additional alcohol you’re thinking of using to further fight the hangover. Water always sits at the center, so make sure it’s always your first choice when you try to get over a hangover.
That concludes today’s lesson. You should be well-equipped to deal with hangovers for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, there’s a final concept we haven’t touched: age. As you get older, hangovers will get worse. When metabolism slows, your ability to process alcohol slows with it. There’s no beating time. But, until you’re so old and decrepit that you just can’t drink anymore, these tips will help you avoid the worst from your hangovers.