Hangovers can be annoying, uncomfortable and just a plain nuisance. Fortunately, there are ways to help avoid and lessen the symptoms of those post-party pains with a little planning. Choosing the right foods and drinks before, during and after your drunken escapades is key — because, let’s face it, when you swear that you’ll never drink again, not even your mother believes you.
Make sure you’re hydrated. In winter months, the air is drier, so drinking a lot of water before partying helps. Also be sure not to go out on an empty stomach; having food in your belly prevents irritation and slows down the absorption process. Some argue salty foods are best, to encourage drinking water, while others vouch for carbs or fatty foods.
“Carbohydrates are helpful because they make low blood sugar less likely and ease nausea,” Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, a professor of clinical medicine at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College, told MSNBC.
Choosing lighter booze over darker booze may make a big difference in how you feel the morning after as well. Vodka, white wine or gin is a better choice over red wine, bourbon or whiskey. Darker booze causes a greater hangover because it contains more congeners — chemicals that increase inflammation in the body. So choosing lighter liquors, rather than darker ones, can help you avoid a hangover.
When using energy drinks as mixers, the caffeine actually makes you feel less tipsy than you are, so you may not recognize your limit, causing a worse hangover. You can also try alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night.
Jamie Stamataky, a senior majoring in psychology, is always sure to have a snack before she calls it a night.
“Always end your night at Pasquale’s,” Stamataky said.
Things you do when you come home from a night out are just as important as being careful about what you drink.
A major side effect of alcohol, as we all know, is dehydration. When you are dehydrated, your brain cells have literally shrunken in size. This is why you sometimes experience headaches, dizziness and nausea. So make sure to have a few glasses of water before bed.
Jackie Weinstein, a senior double-majoring in history and human development, had some advice to offer.
“I try and remember to take Advil before bed and I keep a cup of water by my bed to chug when I wake up,” she said.
Though it may be tempting to just roll under the covers as soon as you get home, not washing your hands and face can actually intensify your hangover. Drinking alcohol causes your body to be more susceptible to germs at the bar. Alcohol suppresses the T-cells your body needs to defend itself, which will intensify your hangover. So it really is important to wash up when you get home to get rid of those germs as best you can.
Turning off your alarm before bed is probably a good idea, for once.
“Alcohol disrupts brain chemicals that regulate sleep, so you’ll spend less time in restorative sleep and more in light sleep,” Oprah’s guru Dr. Oz advised.
Although you may crash as soon as you get home, your sleep isn’t as heavy as it normally would be. Sleeping late will help you avoid hangover symptoms.
When you wake up, you may feel an adverse reaction to eating, but the best thing you can do is plan a trip to the diner. Toast and eggs are your best bet to get rid of the pain.
The carbon in the charred parts of the burnt toast help your body get rid of the alcohol. Eggs contain cysteine, an amino acid that helps your liver break down alcohol toxins faster, according to Dr. Oz. Trips to the bathroom throughout the night cause your body to lose sodium as well as potassium. Having broth will help restore the sodium and bananas will help restore the potassium that you lost.
Still have a headache? Choose ibuprofen over aspirin or acetaminophen. Ibuprofen suppresses a hangover-intensifying messenger called prostaglandin. Acetaminophen and aspirin, however, can irritate your stomach because they both need to be metabolized by your liver, which is already busy working on the alcohol. You can also wrap some ice in a cold towel for your head.
Hydrating yourself throughout the day is just as important the next morning as it is the night before. Besides water, hydrate yourself with electrolytes to restore the nutrients you lost. Sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water and Propel are all good options.
Mint is also great for your stomach, if you can find some. Peppermint soothes your stomach and honey (fructose-fruit sugar) helps your body metabolize alcohol faster. If you don’t like peppermint, a glass of pure fruit juice works as well.