How to Avoid a Hangover - Five Simple Tips to Follow
By Ian Andersen
Posted: March 30, 2021
Primary care physician & Sunnyside Advisor
Last night was a blast? Today though? Today you might find yourself wading through the thick sludge of cotton-mouthed, blurry-eyed regret, or at least having a tough time focusing on your to-do list for the day. If you’ve managed to drag yourself out of bed, we salute you, and we’re here to help you feel better — not just this morning, but the next time you hear the 1 a.m. siren call of SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS!
Sorry to shout. That probably hurt. Let’s take care of how you’re feeling right now.
Too late to avoid a hangover? Here’s how to minimize the pain
We hate to say it, but when you’re feeling like garbage, there’s no quick fix to make it all go away. Just like a fingerprint, each person’s hangover is unique and special in its own (terrible) way. Right now, your body is probably upset about a lot of things: You’re likely dehydrated, fatigued and inflamed, and it’s also possible you’re suffering from a little withdrawal. Your hangover won’t peak until your blood-alcohol returns to zero and your body can stop the hard work of processing all that alcohol. Depending on how last evening went, that means you might be in for a rough 24 hours. Or longer.
While we can’t give you a one-size-fits-all cure, we can offer these hangover helper tips:
Load up on water
Choose water the next morning or a healthy juice or electrolyte-rich sports drink. Because alcohol is a diuretic, the rotten root of hangovers is often dehydration, which is why your tongue feels like it’s wearing a sweater and your head is pounding. Drink up the good stuff and help get your body back in balance.
Go back to sleep
Because drinking interferes with brain activity during sleep, odds are good you didn’t get the rest you needed last night. Your body wants to recover, so if you have the luxury of pulling the covers over your head, do it.
Eat a healthy breakfast
A greasy drive-thru breakfast sandwich probably sounds appealing right now, but be kind to your body and choose a meal that’s high in protein and vitamins. Food will regulate your blood-sugar levels and help with some of the shakiness you’re feeling. If your stomach dislikes this suggestion, tread lightly with bland choices such as toast or a banana.
Get some exercise
Sure, this is the last thing you feel like doing right now, but you may find those workout endorphins give you a bit of a boost. While you won’t “sweat out” your hangover, you will enjoy a nice cocktail of brain chemicals that can act as a natural antidepressant and could lift your mood. That said, stick to a low-intensity workout and keep hydrating so you don’t make things worse for yourself. And don’t push it — if you’re really not feeling well, skip the workout and either go for a simple walk or head back to bed.
Capture how you’re feeling
Yes, we’re recommending putting this down in a note to yourself. This isn’t punishment. Your hangover journal can serve two useful purposes: Writing things down often helps us find the core of what’s troubling us. Do you feel ill because you drank on an empty stomach last night — or because you said something you wish you hadn’t? You can also use this note in the future to help avoid a hangover altogether next time. And that’s where we’re headed next.
How do you avoid a hangover in the first place?
Now we’re talking. While a hangover may seem like the inevitable price to pay for a fun night out (or in) with friends, there are ways to have a good time without wanting the earth to swallow you up the next day. Plus, when you avoid a hangover, you’ll also find that you’re cutting calories, saving money and getting better sleep. Wins all around. Moving forward, here are several proactive ways to enjoy your drinking without suffering the consequences.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach
This is a cliché for a reason. Studies have shown that full bellies end up with lower levels of intoxication, because food in the stomach slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
Remember when we talked about hydration? (We talk about the power of H2O a lot around here at Sunnyside.) Here’s a way to take care of two problems at once. If you alternate your drinks with water or non-alcoholic beverages, you’ll both slow your intake and keep your body hydrated and happy.
Be cautious with darker drinks
Not only does the amount of alcohol you consume matter, but the type of alcohol you drink can also affect how you feel the next day. Congeners are byproducts of fermentation that can give a drink its flavor but also lead to more severe hangovers. You’ll find these sneaky chemicals in darker beverages, so take it easy on the bourbon, rum and red wine.
Socialize responsibly and with a plan
Enjoying a day or night out with friends is a great way to let loose and break up the week. But you may find yourself drinking more in these situations just to fit in, and then drinking more just to keep up. A few ways to avoid this pressure? Keep a non-alcoholic drink in hand. Your friends most likely won’t even notice or care. Another great tactic is to schedule a healthy event early the next morning so you have something to be excited about and help stay focused on your goals around your alcohol intake.
Avoid a hangover by practicing mindful drinking
We’ve all been there — one drink leads to another and another, and before long you’re taking selfies with strangers and wondering what happened to your debit card. You wake up the next morning and, well, remember that note you wrote to capture your hungover feelings? Things sometimes don’t end well. Mindful drinking is being aware of how much alcohol you’re consuming and why, and what each drink might mean to you: another headache, another charge on the card, another load of calories you may not burn off. When you’re aware of what you’re doing to yourself, you’re more likely to make self-caring decisions.
Track your drinks with Sunnyside
Even if you start your night with the best intentions, the muddling effects of alcohol and social pressure may make it hard to follow through. Here’s where technology can be your best anti-hangover friend. Sunnyside helps you track drinks just as easily as you track your steps while also offering personalized coaching and encouragement to reach your mindful drinking goals. Again, when you know what you’re doing and why, you can actually enjoy drinking while avoiding hangovers.
More helpful resources
- How to Drink Less Alcohol During the Pandemic
- Mindful Drinking 101: How to Prioritize Your Health and Still Enjoy Drinking
Co-Founder of Sunnyside