Sometimes the after-effects of a long day of drinking stick around way past their welcome. While there’s no magical hangover cure, there are a few ways to make the next mornings a little more pleasant. So, the next time you indulge in a few too many drinks, try these hangover hacks to alleviate the pain of post-drinking fatigue, headache, and nausea.
Next-day food choices can be your saving grace1. Even if a greasy breakfast sandwich is the only thing you're craving, make sure to eat; food helps break down the alcohol in your system.
Once you've eaten, don't skip that cup of coffee; aside from being a little pick-me-up, it's been shown to help ward off a hangover-induced headache. If you had a few drinks and are suffering from specific symptoms, here's what to do:
Ibuprofen (Advil) will help with your headache and is shown to reduce inflammation. Take two right before you go to bed, even if you aren’t feeling the effects of that open bar yet — it will work wonders overnight. Steer clear of acetaminophen, which can cause liver problems when mixed with alcohol.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to lose a lot of liquid (not to mention valuable electrolytes)2. Your throat and mouth are dry due to dehydration. Dehydration also affects your muscles, making them feel weak. Drink plenty of water, and replace lost electrolytes with a low-sugar electrolyte-replacement drink or coconut water.
Excessive alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach3, causing nausea, digestive issues4, or, in really bad cases, vomiting. Start with some Alka-Seltzer, and eat bland, easily digested foods like saltine crackers, broth, or bananas. Bananas are loaded with potassium and electrolytes to replace what you lost during your boozy bender. But more importantly, they can help settle your stomach.
Irritability and fatigue
Because the liver gets backed up trying to metabolize the alcohol, you might be experiencing low blood sugar, which can result in you feeling irritable and moody. While most foods can help spike up sugar levels in the body, in small studies, fructose has been shown to speed up the body's ability to metabolize alcohol5. Give yourself a tall glass of orange juice after a night of drinking.
Alcohol does a number on sleep patterns; the pituitary gland becomes confused and releases the wrong amounts of hormones that regulate sleep; the central nervous system also becomes overexcited, causing sensitivity to light, sound, and touch6,7 . All of the above means you do not get a good night of quality sleep. Getting plenty of sleep after drinking heavily can help your body recover and avoid a hangover. If you are unable to sleep in and take it easy the next day, then getting drunk may not be such a good idea.
Brain fog and exercising
As two scientific studies suggest, physical exercise after a night out (as hard as it may seem) may be the best thing to counteract some of the less pleasant effects of booze8.
In one study9, Researchers gave male mice daily doses of either alcohol or saline for 12 weeks. Then, the mice ran on a treadmill every day for another 12 weeks. According to their results, the brains of mice that had received alcohol showed impaired mitochondria — but not among those mice that had also exercised.
The other study10, was very similar but looked at these effects in female rats. As in the first study, rats that drank alcohol didn't perform as well on memory tasks and had fewer neurons in a key memory-related brain area. But those rats that got to exercise — regardless of whether or not they had also consumed alcohol — didn't show the same impairments.
There is scientific evidence on humans suggesting that working out can encourage the formation of new neurons while alcohol does exactly the opposite11 .
But while the endorphin rush can counteract the pain (albeit momentarily), the dehydration that comes along with an intense exercise session can worsen symptoms. So, if you decide to go for a run, make sure you hydrate enough.
The strength and length of your hangover goes hand in hand with the amount of alcohol you had.
And when it comes to hangovers, prevention is the best remedy. Hasn't the miracle of modern medicine developed a cure by now? In a word, no.