October 10, 2016
A SLIVER OF annoyance nudges at the edge of your consciousness and you groggily wake up – and immediately regret it. As soon as your eyes creak open, your head begins pounding, and nausea sets up shop in your stomach. In short, You. Feel. Awful.
In short, you’re dehydrated and your body is struggling to cope. Alcohol is considered a diuretic – it suppresses a hormone, vasopressin, that helps our bodies regulate how often we urinate. Without that hormone in place, we tend to hit up the bathroom more often as we’re hitting the bar, and we seldom drink non-alcohol beverages like water to replace those lost fluids.
Also consider that the bar, party or club might have been hot, and you were very likely sweating or remaining active as you socialized and danced – that’s a lot of lost hydration!
As your body works to redistribute whatever liquid you still have on deck, your blood vessels dilate and cause swelling, which in turn kicks off that terrible headache. The nausea you may also feel? According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking is also to blame here. Alcohol slows down your digestion and sends your balance of stomach acid out of whack, which makes you feel sick as it sloshes around.
Here are three easy, tried-and-true tactics to help you get over the worst of it a little bit faster.
Drink some water – yes, right now. No, you don’t need to double-fist two gallons of aqua to short-circuit the hangover train, but you will need to get a little more than usual into your body. Stick with pure H2O if you can stomach it; the sugar and added ingredients in sports drinks are more likely to churn up your stomach acid than calm it down. You’re lacking in water, not necessarily electrolytes, so try and down a glass or two of pure water if you have it handy. In fact, WebMD suggests stocking your bedside table with a bottle or two of water before you crash for the night, so you won’t have to go hunting for it in your impaired state.
Hit the showers. It’s really hard to feel like you’re on the mend if your hair feels greasy, your face feels oily, and your mouth tastes like the remnants of last night’s bar appetizers. Clean up and let the warm water relax you and help melt your headache back into oblivion. Life Hackery also recommends that you scrub your scalp vigorously while shampooing to massage any lingering headache-inducing tension.
Go back to bed. Provided you don’t have an important presentation or mid term to get to, don’t feel guilty about hitting the sack. Health.com recommends a good, solid nap on a comfortable bed (skip the couch, which typically lacks back support) which lets your body work to repair the damage while you’re out cold. Think of it like putting your phone in airplane mode before you charge it: you’ll get to that 100% mark much faster because you don’t have other functions – walking, talking, viewing, listening – to worry about processing while your immune system does what it does best.
It’s hard to believe, but exotic hangover cures and potions – no matter how much your cousin’s friend’s brother swears by them – seldom provide more relief than a simple routine of drink, rinse and rest.
While you should ideally avoid future consumption of the same levels of liquor to dodge additional hangovers, be sure to intersperse your cocktails with bottles of water if you still plan on indulging, and get to bed earlier, rather than later: the next-day-you will definitely be grateful!