The party’s over, and you officially feel like crap. That morning light pouring through the crack in your curtains makes you want to hiss like Dracula. Then there’s the headache, the nausea and the general zombie-like feeling that you just can’t seem to shake.
Hangovers suck, no doubt.
But they’ve happened to the best of us. If you’re having trouble getting jump-started the next day, we’ve got some hangover hacks that should help you feel better.
But before we get to that, we’re going to give you a few tips on how to avoid a hangover in the first place. Then we will get to the best hangover remedies.
Note: if you’re suffering from a hangover as you read this, just skip to the section entitled “The Damage Is Done. Now What Do I Do?”
How to Prevent a Hangover in the First Place
The best way to conquer a hangover is before it happens. So here are a few tips to help you avoid pain, regret and possible memory loss.
Yes, you are probably rolling your eyes right now. Perhaps laughing. But we felt obliged to say it. And it also works. Duh.
Remember that it takes your body about an hour to process a single shot of alcohol. So try to pace yourself.
Make Sure You’re Hydrated BEFORE You Go Out
Alcohol is a diuretic. Which is why you usually need to pee a lot once you start drinking. And every time you go to the bathroom you’re losing valuable fluids and electrolytes.
That means you get dehydrated, which is part of the reason you feel so sucky the next day. So if you’re planning to throw a few back in the evening, make sure you’re pounding water and other fluids all day.
And once the party is on, try to down a glass of water between every one of your grown up drinks. You should wake up feeling fresher.
Eat a Good Meal Beforehand
That old adage about not drinking on an empty stomach is actually good scientific advice. When you have food in your stomach, the alcohol absorbs more slowly.
So if you’re headed out for drinks but not dinner, make sure you eat something first. Some people even take a shot of olive oil to line their stomach. Not sure what the science is on that one, but a few omegas couldn’t hurt.
Stick to Light Colored Drinks
All alcohol has varying degrees of what are called congeners. Translation: toxic chemicals that get produced during the fermentation process. Drinks high in congeners can make your hangover way worse.
But you can’t exactly ask the bartender for a congener-free cocktail. Not that you would remember the word anyway, especially after you start drinking.
The key thing to remember is that light-colored drinks (like vodka and gin) have fewer congeners. Dark-colored drinks (red wine, whiskey, dark rum) have more.
Overdo light-colored drinks, and you’ll still wind up with a hangover. But consumed in moderation, they should make you feel less like the walking dead the next day.
Drink More Water Before You Go To Sleep
Yes, we are going to harp on you about fluids again. Whatever time you get home, have a big glass of water or even an electrolyte drink before you head off to bed. You won’t regret it.
The Damage Is Done. Now What Do I Do?
Sorry, but there’s no one single cure that’s going to make your hangover magically disappear. You’re going to need to come at this bad boy from every angle because there’s a lot going on in your poor abused body right now.
When you have a hangover you’re actually suffering from various things at once including:
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Low blood sugar
- Stomach and intestinal inflammation
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Sleep disturbance
Not a pretty picture. But here’s how to get relief step by step.
1. Rehydrate Stat!
You’ve lost a lot of fluids. And if you were unfortunate enough to toss your cookies, even more so.
Pounding water at this stage is vital, but may not be enough. Because you also lost a lot of electrolytes, you’re going to want to replace them. So try some Gatorade along with your H2O.
Don’t have any around? Here’s a quick recipe for an electrolyte drink with stuff you may already have in your house:
Juice of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces of water (flat or sparkling)
Honey or agave to taste
Sounds weird. But I was given this once when I got sick on a camping trip, and it was like drinking manna from heaven. The stuff works!
2. Eat Breakfast
Eating may be the last thing you want to do right now, but it’s important because your blood sugar is probably in the dumps. You may be hangry and not even know it.
Some people swear by greasy food and others by carbs. But it’s best to go for a healthy, balanced breakfast that includes a little protein, healthy fats and plenty of vitamins.
If nothing else, at least eat a banana. It will help replace all the potassium you lost and give you a carb boost.
3. Antacids are Your Friend
If just reading the previous section made you feel nauseous, you need something to settle your acidy stomach.
And though it sounds like something your grandpa would use, Tums or Alka-Seltzer will actually help. So break out the old school remedies, friend.
4. Use Pain Killers with Caution
Your first instinct for that massive headache may be reaching for an aspirin, but be careful. If your stomach is upset, it could make matters worse.
A safer bet is to take some ibuprofen with food to help reduce the inflammation that’s going on in your system right now.
What you want to avoid by all means is Tylenol or anything else with acetaminophen. It will put stress on your already overtaxed liver and could do more damage than good.
5. Antioxidants to the Rescue
Alcohol causes oxidative stress in the body, which means your body is a playground for free radicals. What you need now are some antioxidants.
Some good sources are berries, grapes, carrots, spinach, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds and green tea.
If you’re a fan of kombucha, that will work too!
6. Small Amounts of Caffeine
A little bit of caffeine will help you shake off that foggy feeling but go easy. Coffee and tea are both diuretics which means they could dehydrate you even further.
Go ahead and have a cup if you really need the fix. But water, electrolyte drinks and juice are better for overall relief.
7. Natural Remedies
People have come up with all kinds of bizarre hangover remedies like pickle juice (like you want to drink that right now) or putting a lemon in your armpit. If you’d prefer not to turn yourself into a human guinea pig, here are a few natural supplements that have proven to be effective:
Prickly Pear Extract
Ginger Tea (Even better with lemon and honey. This is a good one for settling your stomach!)
8. Vitamins B and C
One of the reasons you feel so bad after drinking is a lack of nutrients. To get you back to feeling human again, two vitamins are especially important.
Vitamin B helps with energy, brain function and boosts the immune and nervous system. Taking some before, during and after drinking will help even more.
And because alcohol weakens your immune system, you may want to take some vitamin C. Foods like broccoli, oranges, strawberries and kiwis are also a great source
9. Don’t Fall For the Hair of the Dog Myth
Having more alcohol may make you feel slightly better in the morning, but it will NOT help you truly beat that hangover. It just perpetuates a bad cycle. Stick to orange juice with breakfast instead.
10. Get Some Exercise (But Hydrate!)
It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing right now, but exercise will help you sweat the toxins out and may give you an endorphin lift.
Just make sure you drink plenty of fluids! You don’t want to pass out on the spin bike.
11. Sleep It Off
Alcohol may make you pass out sooner, but it actually disrupts your sleep rhythm. So even if you did get some shut-eye, you probably don’t feel rested.
What you need most right now is some quality sleep. So if you don’t have anywhere to be first thing in the morning, drink some fluids and get back to bed.
You’ll probably feel like a new person when you wake up. Or at least one that doesn’t hate the world quite so much.
A New Day
There you have it, party people. Hopefully, these hangover hacks will bring you back to life a little sooner. Or even help you prevent that next regretful morning all together. Now go drink some fluids.
And cheers to feeling alive all over again!
You might also be interested in: Why Sleep Matters To Your Health [And How to Improve Your Sleep]