We've all done it at least once, a dozen, or more times than we can count. You're out a friend's house, or you head to the bar with the girls and you have a few too many to drink. Not only were your actions the night before questionable, but now you wake up feeling terrible when you have to deal with it.
Good news! There are some things you can do to speed up the recovery from a nasty hangover.
While it may seem like you make frequent trips to the bathroom during a night of drinking, it's not because you're well hydrated. In fact alcohol dehydrates your body and contributes to the awful feeling you have in the morning. Before you head to bed, drink a big glass of water to rehydrate your body, to lighten the heavy feeling in your head in the morning. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D., a consultant in addiction psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic recommends ordering a glass of water for every beer you have in order to keep the hydration balance in your body while you're drinking.
A lot of people, whether they're feeling hungover or not, use coffee to feel more wakeful and alert. While caffeine won't give you lasting benefits, it can temporarily treat the headache that you have going on. But remember, have a glass of water along with your coffee, to stay hydrated.
Toast or Crackers
Remember when you got the flu and all you did was munch on crackers and dry toast? Same logical applies here. While no food can slow down your need to hug the porcelain throne, carbs can help bring your blood sugar levels back up the morning. Typically when your blood sugar levels drop your liver reacts by producing more glucose from stored carbs. However, thanks to the alcohol in your system, your liver is busy trying to metabolize everything you drank last night, so your sugar levels stay down. This can make you feel tired and irritable.
While it's common to head to the diner for a greasy meal following a night of drinking, it's actually more important what you put into your system BEFORE the drinks start going down that can actually lessen the hangover. Having a full stomach helps to slow the absorption of alcohol, which means it will take longer for the alcohol to reach your blood stream.
If you find yourself reaching into the medicine cabinent the next morning for relief of your pounding headache, make sure you reach for the right pills. Stick to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen), not acetaminophen (Tylenol).
"While it's OK for a headache, when combined with a liver that's working overtime to metabolize alcohol, it can cause liver damage or be deadly," says Dena Davidson, Ph.D., former associate professor of psychiatry at Indiana University School of Medicine.
This fizzy remedy has been around for 80 years, and it's probably been used to treat hangovers for that long. Alka-Seltzer contains baking soda which will help settle a queasy stomach by neutralizing stomach acid, which can be very comforting after a night of heavy drinking.
While you may think you're getting a good night sleep after a night of drinking, you're really not. Alcohol may put you to sleep quickly, but as it wears off several hours later, the withdrawal your body feels can disrupt your sleep and jolt you awake.
If you have the luxury of being able to sleep it off the next day, do it. Your foggy head and achey body will thank you.
"The body’s got an amazing capacity to heal on its own," says Charles Cutler, MD, an internist in Norristown, Pa., and the chair of the American College of Physicians' board of governors.
The Best Cure? Prevention.
You're a grown adult and you should know how much your body can handle. Try to limit yourself to one drink per hour and make sure you have had food before downing that beer or cocktail. Don't forget to order that glass of water along with your drink to make sure you don't get dehydrated while enjoying your alcohol.
How do you feel better after a night of drinking?