Having a few of your favorite alcoholic beverages at a party or get-together with friends and family members is always a good time. But no one likes the after-effects, especially if you drink a little too much and end up with all the symptoms of a hangover, including a headache, sensitivity to light, and other unfun stuff.
Fortunately, people have been getting hangovers for millennia, which also means they figured out some smart hangover cures you can employ both before experiencing hangover symptoms and after you’ve already come under their assault.
Let’s take a look at some different ways to cure your hangover in detail.
1. Drink Tons of Water
This tried-and-true technique is a staple of hangover cures, and for a good reason. Here’s a good rule of thumb: for every alcoholic beverage you consume, drink one glass of water shortly thereafter. You’ll still be able to enjoy your buzz to some extent, but you won’t experience hangover symptoms nearly as much after you wake up from your next nap (if at all). For example, if you drink one beer, drink a glass of water afterward. The same goes for a glass of wine or any other alcoholic drink.
The reason? Alcohol is a diuretic. Drinking a lot of alcohol dehydrates you, which is part of why you have a headache when you wake up with a hangover. If you drink water while you drink alcohol, dehydration is much less likely to occur, and you’re also less likely to feel hungover the next day.
However, if you already have a hangover and want to crush its symptoms quickly, drink a few glasses of water right off the bat. That way, your body will begin rehydrating at the earliest opportunity.
If you’re dehydrated, chances are you’ll also need some electrolytes like sodium and potassium to recover from your night of drinking. You can opt for premade hydration mixes like Gatorade, Pedialyte, or other sports drinks. However, you can also stock up on flavored electrolyte powders that you can mix with normal water for a similar effect.
Even if you feel like throwing up, try to swallow at least a little bit of water in conjunction with some bland foods, as detailed below.
2. Have a Bland Snack
As touched on above, bland food is actually a surprising hangover cure. Foods such as crackers, bread, cereal, and other carbohydrate-heavy foods without a lot of flavor may be the best bites to solve your hangover munchies, plus alleviate your headache and nausea. Carb-rich foods like these can also help boost your blood sugar levels, which may be low after a night of drinking.
True, you might not feel like eating too much when you wake up with a hangover. But you should still try to force down at least a few crackers or chips.
When you give your stomach something to focus on, you may help to settle it, especially if you combine your bland snack with a few glasses of water. Plus, depending on how much you drank, you may have been asleep for eight hours or more. Your body could be quite famished, and giving it a little bit of quick fuel and help you get back on your feet and feeling better in no time.
Try to avoid spicy or overly complex foods, as well as foods that have a lot of fat content. These are, unfortunately, likely to make any nausea or stomach grumbling worse in the midst of a hangover. Stick with the simple stuff to be safe rather than sorry!
3. Try a Supplement or Vitamin
Certain supplements and vitamins are also well-known hangover cures, though you have to absorb the right supplements and vitamins to see real benefits.
For example, B vitamins may help to alleviate hangover cures after you have had too much to drink. Furthermore, if you have drinks or foods with a lot of zinc and B vitamins, you could find that your hangover symptoms are much lower than they would be otherwise. Some good foods to eat include grass-fed beef and lamb, chicken, spinach, and yogurt: all healthy and delicious foods by themselves, anyway.
There’s also the amino acid l-cysteine, a recently studied potential hangover remedy that could cure your hangover symptoms in no time. According to some studies, l-cysteine supplements can help reduce headaches and nausea, even among people who drink heavily before going to sleep. This supplement works by helping your body process acetaldehyde, one of the byproducts of alcohol processing in your body.
Of course, there’s no miracle drug or supplement you can take to totally cure a hangover. It’s best to think of supplements and vitamins as potential fixes for hangover symptoms if you are already in the throes of this unfortunate side effect.
4. Get Some Sleep
Sleeping, naturally, is another good way to cure your hangover symptoms, albeit over time rather than quickly. If you wake up with a hangover, check your clock and see if you have time for another nap of one to two hours. That might be enough for your hangover symptoms to wear off by themselves.
Regardless, your body usually needs a little extra sleep after drinking a lot. Your brain specifically requires extra sleeping time so it can regenerate and recharge, plus dump waste chemicals that build up throughout the night as byproducts of alcohol processing. When you drink heavily, you don’t enter as deep a sleep as you normally do, even though it may feel like it. Giving your brain that extra deep sleep the next morning could be just the ticket.
5. Take a Pain Reliever Other Than Tylenol
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil, and so on, are also good hangover cures. These can help with headaches and other achy feelings you may have throughout your body. However, if your stomach is already irritated, avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, as these could exacerbate your symptoms.
You should also explicitly avoid acetaminophen, which is found in drugs like Tylenol. Acetaminophen is slightly toxic to your liver — normally, this isn’t a problem, but if a lot of alcohol is still in your bloodstream, those toxic effects could be exacerbated and cause liver damage or other complications.
6. Drink Coffee or Tea
If alcohol is a suppressant, it’s no big surprise that a stimulant, such as caffeine, could help to alleviate certain hangover symptoms. To that end, try drinking some coffee or tea. For the best results and to make sure you don’t worsen your nausea, drink black coffee and tea without the extra fixings.
Caffeine doesn’t specifically have any anti-hangover abilities, but it is a potent stimulant, so it can help you roll out of bed if you don’t have time to wait for your hangover symptoms to fade. Pair coffee or tea with your bland snack of choice, and don’t forget to drink regular water, as well!
It’s worth noting here that a popular hangover cure involves drinking alcohol first thing in the morning. Also called the hair of the dog, this cure continues to dehydrate, can raise blood alcohol levels, and also lead to a worse hangover than before. And while this trick may stave off symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, it won’t actually work to cure your hangover.
7. Avoid Heavy Drinking in the First Place
Above all else, the best hangover cure is to simply avoid drinking too much in the first place. This is easier said than done, especially if you are new to drinking or don’t know your limits.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid drinking more than one beverage per hour and drink no more than three beverages in total. Of course, the actual limits vary heavily based on your metabolism, body weight, and sex. Generally, men can drink more than women before feeling the effects of alcohol or experiencing a hangover because they are larger and have different body fat percentages.
Still, men and women alike should try to avoid heavy drinking by pacing themselves, planning out their beverages, and drinking water in between extra beverages if needed. Avoiding heavy drinking will prevent you from feeling the effects of a hangover entirely or mostly.
If you do plan to drink heavily regardless, try to avoid any darker-colored alcoholic beverages, such as red wine, whiskey, and tequila. Certain experiments have indicated that clear liquors, like gin and vodka, cause hangovers less frequently than dark liquors.
That’s partially because darker alcoholic beverages have chemically related compounds called congeners, such as methanol. Because the same enzymes in your body process ethanol and methanol at the same time, drinking a dark-colored alcoholic beverage could give your body twice the stuff to sift through, making a hangover and associated symptoms more likely.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to cure a hangover, especially if you are smart and strategize before going to bed. But even if you hit the sack and wake up with a roaring headache, you can alleviate your pain in a few hours, so long as you drink enough and have a satisfying snack.
But avoiding drinking heavily is always wise, and it’s an important part of holistic wellness. 1AND1’s other resources, such as dietary recommendations and exercise guides, can help you lead a healthier, happier life in more ways than one. Check them out today!