From the pounding headache to the queasy stomach and dry mouth – hangovers aren’t pretty. Being punished for having too much fun is most certainly unfair, but it comes with the territory if you’re going to drink. Hangovers can strike anyone for any number of reasons. Most people experience hangovers after drinking to excess, while others can get one after only a couple drinks. Knowing how to prevent hangovers and heal them is key to having a good night and pain-free morning. Here are 12 proven strategies for preventing and curing hangovers:
- Don’t Drink, or Drink Less: This may seem like a no-brainer, but the best strategy for preventing hangovers is to abstain from drinking altogether. If you don’t drink, you can’t get a hangover. But this is not a realistic option for those of us who enjoy having drinks with friends or letting loose at get-togethers. Assuming that you are going to drink, you should be aware of your tolerance and how many drinks it takes for you to feel intoxicated. If you simply drink less, you’ll have a better chance of preventing a hangover. It can be hard to monitor your alcohol intake when friends keep refilling your glass, but you can always alternate drinks with water or a glass of seltzer so you stay hydrated and drink way less.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: I cannot emphasize this one enough. In order to prevent and cure hangovers, you’re going to have to stay hydrated. Alcohol significantly dehydrates you and not drinking enough water before, during and after drinking can give you a hangover and make it that much worse. Before your first drink, make sure you hydrate before and continue to do so between alcoholic drinks. You can hydrate with water, juice, sports drinks and other liquids as long as they are caffeine- and alcohol-free. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water before bed and as soon as you wake up to replenish your body and prevent dehydration and dry mouth.
- Eat Before, During and After You Drink: Eating a meal before you drink is a great way to prevent hangovers because it helps slow down the absorption of alcohol and reduces the acetaldehyde in your stomach. If you can, it’s also a good idea to eat a snack while drinking to avoid intoxication. If you have the munchies before bed, it’s completely fine and actually good for you to eat something. Eating a snack or late-night meal will help absorb alcohol in the stomach and replenish your body with some nutrients. Bread, crackers and other starchy foods are good choices and will generally sit well in your stomach.
- Don’t Mix It Up: You may enjoy having beer one minute and cocktails the next, but mixing different types of alcohol is usually a recipe for disaster. Beer, wine, liquor and spirits all contain different alcohol contents, chemicals and ingredients that may or may not agree with your stomach when mixed. To be on the safe side and prevent a hangover, pick one drink type for the night and stick to it. You can switch it up the next time you go out.
- Choose Light Alcohol Over Dark: One way to prevent a dreadful hangover is to drink light alcohol over dark kinds. Darker alcohol such as red wine, bourbon and whiskey contain chemicals called congeners, which are produced during the fermentation process and have been known to cause hangovers. Light-colored alcohol, such as vodka or gin, is a safer choice because they do not contain congeners and you’ll lower your chances of waking up with a hangover.
- Avoid Sugary and Carbonated Drinks: As much as you might love margaritas, rum and Cokes, and strawberry daiquiris, these sugary drinks are not the best choice for preventing hangovers. Not only can these sugary drinks upset your stomach and cause serious headaches, but they also disguise the taste of alcohol and are easy to drink in excess. Too much of any drink, let alone a super sugary one, is a sure-fire way to get a hangover. To be on the safe side, you’ll also want to avoid carbonated drinks, such as champagne and soda, because the carbonated bubbles speed up the flow and absorption of alcohol. This means you’ll get drunk faster, but you may feel not feel the negative side effects until the next day.
- Have Some Caffeine: If you’re feeling less-than-stellar the next morning, you may have to nurse your hangover with a cup of coffee, tea or an energy drink to get back on your feet. A little caffeine, along with plenty of water, can help alleviate hangover symptoms. Caffeine can stop a pounding heading by constricting your arteries. However, if you’re feeling nauseous or have vomited, you’ll want to avoid caffeine and acidic drinks until your hangover and stomach pains have passed, and stick to water, sports drinks and sips of Sprite or 7UP.
- Take an Aspirin: If you’re head is still pounding and you’re feeling achy all over, you may want to take an over-the-counter painkiller, such as an aspirin or ibuprofen. DO NOT take Tylenol or any pill with acetaminophen, which may cause liver damage. Also, it’s important that you wait until the next morning to take painkillers when there is less alcohol in your system.
- Sleep It Off: Sometimes there is no better way to cure a hangover than to simply sleep it off. If you can afford to sleep all day or go to bed early, then you certainly should. You’ve put your body through a lot, so treat it kindly with plenty of sleep. Be aware that you may not be able to enter REM sleep after a long night of boozing, so don’t be surprised if your nine hours isn’t enough to feel well rested the next day. Your sleep should return to normal once you’ve battled your hangover.
- Take a Vitamin Supplement: Alcohol can deplete important vitamins and nutrients from your body, so it’s a good idea to make up for that loss with a vitamin supplement. When you drink alcohol, your body becomes deficient in thiamine, also known as vitamin B-1. This essential nutrient has several roles, including metabolizing alcohol. In order to bring your body back up to speed and replace this important nutrient, you can take a B-complex vitamin, vitamin C or multivitamin.
- Exercise: Sometimes the best way to cure your hangover is to sweat it out! Even if exercising is the last thing you want to do, it can be very beneficial for battling your hangover. If you’re up for the challenge, go for a light walk or bike ride to get your blood flowing and take in some fresh air. You may want to avoid any vigorous exercises if you feel puny or your stomach is upset. After your workout, be sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated so you don’t feel weaker than you did before.
- Take a Shower: A warm shower can relieve some of the pesky hangover symptoms and help you get on with your day. Not to mention, you’ll feel a lot better if you are clean and smell good. If you can gather up enough energy to hop in the shower, you are on your way to hangover recovery. To be on the safe side, save your shower for the next morning because it may lower your body temperature and you don’t want to risk falling or hurting yourself.