5 Things To Do When You Have A Hangover To Feel Better Faster, & 4 Things Not To Do, According To Doctors
Picture this: it's Saturday morning after a late night with friends. Your head is pounding, you've never felt thirstier in your life, and you already know you're going to spend the rest of the day marathoning Netflix. Being hungover is beyond common — and it only gets more common as you get older. The question is, what do you do when you have a hangover to get your day back on track?
Dealing with a hangover means wading through all the different symptoms of a hangover and trying to tackle them all. Though symptoms can vary from person to person, most people who wake up with a hangover experience headaches, excessive thirstiness, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and muscle aches. What's more, as fellow Bustler Natalia Lusinski reported this past February, hangovers can mess with your mood, ability to concentrate, and overall mental health.
Everyone has their particular go-to — from eating greasy foods for breakfast, to chugging a bottle of orange juice and taking a multivitamin. However, the truth is, a majority of the hangover cures peddled out are, indeed, myths that won't actually keep you from feeling the effects. Here are the hangover cures that actually work, and a few of the ones that don't.
Drinking Water Helps
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning, it makes you pee more often and causes dehydration — hence, part of the reason headaches and thirstiness may plague you during a hangover. The best way to combat that is super obvious: Drink water, but be mindful not to chug it.
"Hydrating is best tolerated with colder beverages, because they produce less nausea, and generally are able to be tolerated more easily than room temperature beverages," Dr. Shilpi Agarwal, M.D., tells Bustle. "A few sips of water every few minutes is better than guzzling a liter at once, because it is usually absorbed without problem."
As Do Ginger Or Peppermint
If you're dealing with nausea after a night of drinking, peppermint and ginger supplements will be your stomach's best friend. Dr. Agarwal says, "Often times, alcohol is also taken in with sugary drinks and this combination makes hangover symptoms significantly worse, particularly with stomach irritation. Peppermint helps relaxes the GI system muscles and reduce cramping or bloating." In fact, peppermint is regularly used to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). What's more, Women's Health reported in 2017 that ginger has been shown to relieve nausea, vomiting, and acid reflux symptoms. Daub some essential oils on if you'd rather not take them as a supplement.
Red Gingseng Is Another Option
As TIME reported last December, new research has shown that the root red ginseng can "clear alcohol byproducts from the blood," making it a promising supplement when it comes to managing hangover symptoms. However, additional studies are needed before this plant is hailed as a holy-grail product for hangovers.
And Sleeping It Off Is A Tried-And-True Method
Hangovers can interfere with your cognitive function and decrease productivity at work, so if you have the option, stay home and catch some Zzz's. "Sleep is one of the most restorative processes for the body. Because our system is not focused on day to day functions of metabolism, it can focus energy where it is needed," Dr. Agarwal explains. "Alcohol is processed in the liver, but when we are awake and eating, for example, the liver has other functions it is also responsible for. When we sleep, we not only rest the body, but allow other processes to go on more efficiently."
Simply put, sleeping can help your body recover from working overtime while you were drinking alcohol. Of course, be sure to hydrate and eat what you can before you snooze — or, you may still feel sick when you wake up.
As Is Eating A Good Breakfast
According to Healthline, research shows that eating breakfast can help ease nausea and fatigue that often accompany a hangover. "Generally after we are hungover, there is some imbalance in blood sugar levels and our body is often craving food," Dr. Agarwal further explains. "I would recommend bland foods like fruits, toast, and dry cereal."
But Your Classic Bacon Egg & Cheese Might Not Be So Helpful
While eating breakfast is one way to make your hangover a little easier, Dr. Agarwal says that eating greasy foods to cure a hangover is counterproductive. "Greasy foods are often eaten [when hungover], but in reality, the greasy food often gives us more heartburn or acid reflux," she explains. So, try to eat a bland and balanced meal the morning after a night out, if you can.
Whatever You Do, Don't Go To A Sauna
Some people swear by going to a sauna to "sweat out" alcohol byproducts after a night of drinking, but this is a dangerous myth that can cause harm to your health, and perpetuate the symptoms of a hangover. "All this does is dehydrate you more, so I don't recommend it," says Dr. Agarwal, adding that, "sweating out what little fluid you have is a really bad idea when you are hungover."
And Hair Of The Dog Doesn't Work
Hair of the Dog (aka, drinking the morning after a night out) has long been touted as a popular cure for hangovers, but it will only make things worse in the long run. "Drinking again the next day may temporarily stave off some symptoms, but is a bad idea because you are likely to worsen a hangover you have the following day," explains Dr. Agarwal. "Our body is getting rid of the breakdown products of alcohol which are toxins that the liver has to process. Setting yourself back by drinking more will just prolong the problem."
Meaning, it's best to skip the mimosas and stick to straight OJ if you want to mitigate your hangover symptoms.
Just Remember: There Are No Quick Fixes
Hangover symptoms are downright awful, but unfortunately, there's no quick fix. The reality is, if you see a supplement that's advertised as a "cure" hangovers, it's probably not scientifically sound. As Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a nephrologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine told Slate in 2013, "There’s nothing you can do to remove the alcohol byproducts. They have to be metabolized by your liver, which takes time. There’s no evidence that anything is better than waiting."
So, there you have it: While there are a few ways to manage the symptoms that come along with a hangover, many of the so-called remedies are myths. According to science, your best bet is to drink water, eat, sleep, and wait it out. Cheers!