Drinking can be fun but the consequences the next day are often devastating. Hangover symptoms can include an intense headache, nausea, diarrhea, achiness, heartburn, dizziness, exhaustion, sensitivity to light, noise, and strong smells, and a general feeling of sickness. These symptoms are thought to be caused by dehydration and a stressed out liver from dealing with alcohol’s toxic byproducts produced in the liver while digesting it (although science has not been able to prove this conclusively). Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to alleviate your symptoms much more quickly than if you had simply waited for your symptoms to pass. Nine tips that are shown by science to actually work are listed below.
Dehydration can explain many of the symptoms of a hangover, and getting adequate water back into your system should be priority number one (especially if you’ve been vomiting or have had diarrhea). Even if you’re nauseated, try sipping slowly on water to get as much of it back into your system as possible. Take it slow, however — if you drink too much too quickly and vomit, this will make your dehydration worse. Drinking water is also the best way to help your liver process out toxins left over in your body from the alcohol.
2. Replace electrolytes
More than just water, your body loses nutrients like potassium and sodium that help your body function when you drink alcohol. Consider either alternating water with juice or a sports drink, or taking a multivitamin the morning after a night of heavy drinking. A word of caution, however — a multivitamin with iron can make your nausea much worse and should be avoided.
3. Sleep it off
If you have the time, taking a long nap can help your body focus on recovering. Sleeping has the added benefit of allowing you to be unconscious instead of experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of a hangover.
4. Eat something easily digestible
Although many people swear by having a large greasy breakfast the morning after drinking, the science is actually against this. Grease can make heartburn worse. A better bet is to eat easily digestible foods to fuel your recovery. Examples of good morning after foods include toast, cereal, honey, and crackers.
5. Drink water mixed with a little bit of baking soda
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a basic chemical that neutralizes acid. When you have heartburn, ingesting a small amount of it mixed with water can neutralize some of your excess stomach acid to soother your stomach. It may taste nasty, but it’s one of the quickest ways to settle an acidic stomach.
6. Take ibuprofen or naproxen sodium
Both of these medicines are NSAIDs, or non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. Drugs in this category are very effective at soothing aches as well as headaches. Do not, however, take acetaminophen or aspirin. Acetaminophen will stress your liver further and is therefore not safe to mix with alcohol, even the day after. Aspirin is a blood thinner, and so is alcohol — this means it should not be mixed with alcohol, even the residual amount still in your blood stream the day after drinking, to avoid bleeding problems.
7. Take a warm bath or shower
This can help you process out some of the toxic byproducts created during the digestion of alcohol by promoting blood flow. It can also ease some of your achiness and your headache.
8. Take a walk
If your stomach can handle it, a little light exercise will encourage blood flow and help your liver process out the alcohol byproducts more quickly. Mild physical exertion has the added benefit of releasing endorphins, which promote a sense of physical well being. This can give you a feel-good boost ot get you through the difficult morning after drinking.
9. If you must have caffeine, avoid coffee and energy drinks
These can dehydrate you and stress your liver further. Instead, consider switching to a mild and hydrating source of caffeine like green tea for the day.
Ultimately, the only way to end hangovers is not to drink in excess in the first place. Since this isn’t realistic for most people, utilizing some of the above tips can help make recovering from your hangover symptoms a faster and more bearable process. Try each tip and find what works for you.