Alcohol is popular in pretty much every culture in the world, but our understanding of hangovers can be surprisingly limited. While numerous studies have been conducted as to the exact effects of alcohol and the various ways a person can wake up with a hangover, creating a one-size-fits-all approach for how to cure a hangover is probably not happening tomorrow. Of course, there are still lots of ways to help yourself out!
We all have complex physiological systems in our bodies, so our responses to alcohol can vary based on numerous factors. Identifying and properly managing your own habits can be the key to mitigating a hangover in the morning. Nothing will abracadabra your symptoms away except for time and care.
Hangover causes and what you can do about them
The easiest one to point at is alcohol’s tendency to increase how much and how often we need to urinate. Whether you drink wine, beer or liquor, having a glass of water around to sip on through the night can be a real benefit to how you feel the next morning. Dehydration can lead to wooziness and headaches in the morning. Sports drinks and other beverages may seem perfectly suited for rehydrating, but electrolytes lost because of drinking are not an urgent enough problem to make a sports drink better than water.
Peeing too much: drink water throughout the night to stay hydrated. Drink water in the morning as well.
Vomiting after excessive drinking is something no one enjoys and can even occur the morning after. The reason for the nausea and vomiting part of a hangover stems from irritation in the lining of your stomach caused by alcohol. This causes your stomach to engage in a double-whammy of over-producing stomach acid while slowing down the speed at which stomach contents travel into the rest of the digestive system, meaning the extra acid tends to stick around longer.
Eating something a bit plain will help lessen this problem. Saltine crackers or toast, for example, can help your stomach settle and also help keep your blood sugar from dropping too low. Non-spicy soup or simply broth can be good at replenishing salt and potassium that may have also been lost.
Nausea, upset stomach and vomiting: have some plain snacks, like crackers or toast, or an antacid.
On the topic of food, hangover “friendly” foods, specifically greasy foods, are not better suited to helping you manage your morning. Instead, it’s more important to focus on eating healthy prior to drinking. Alcohol on an empty stomach is always going to worsen whatever problems you may have, so enjoy a nice meal before the party starts.
Let’s tackle headaches
Headaches can be caused by all sorts of things related to drinking. Alcohol alone causes blood vessels to expand, including those in your brain. This causes tenderness, i.e., a headache. Since this is a biological response to alcohol, you can’t completely stop a headache from happening.
Treating the pain in the morning with headache medicine can help, but you also need to be careful not to overdo it, as many painkillers, like Tylenol, can be tough on your liver. When the liver is already busy trying to process last night’s alcohol, the risk grows worse.
A lack of sleep can cause a lack of energy in the morning and can even make your headache feel worse. It’s true: alcohol doesn’t actually help you sleep. It can make you groggy, sure, but it actually disrupts your sleep patterns, leaving you less rested upon waking.
Headaches: a glass of water and going back to sleep can really help.
Giving yourself extra time for your body to process the night before, especially in the form of sleep, can be perhaps the single greatest way to reduce the problems.
But what about “X” to cure hangovers?
There are a million ways to cure hangovers according to the internet, friends, and anybody walking down the street. The truth is that if something like drinking a sports drink or having a cup of coffee in the morning work for you, you’re not exactly wrong to do it. People can react to alcohol in different ways, so “curing” a hangover isn’t exactly far-fetched. Just because your favorite hangover cure isn’t listed here doesn’t mean it is ineffective for you, but it does mean that it may not work for everyone.
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