By Maggie Hsu, August 3 2022—
Before you head to your next night out, there may be a few things worrying you. Most significantly, the potential consequences you might pay the morning after — the hangover. The ice-picking headache, the nausea, debilitating fatigue and the overall sentiment of feeling like crap. It’s almost enough to make you not want to leave the house — but only almost. The promise of fun and memories is a lot more tempting so here are some ways to prevent or decrease the pain of the morning after a night out.
Generally, the more you drink, the more likely you are to experience a hangover. It’s hard to say how much is the threshold between drinking enough to wake up feeling close to normal the next day or waking up feeling like you were just run over by a semi-truck. This threshold changes from person-to-person as well as experience-to-experience for each person.
Alcohol is a depressant which can make someone feel like their senses are dulled. It’s why many feel more confident and are less prone to second guess themselves. Our defenses are taken down by alcohol and the more we drink, the less our better judgment is likely to kick in.
So the main thing to aim for is drinking in moderation so you’re not potentially crossing the line into regretting everything you did the night before when you have to, inevitably, face the day.
Otherwise, you can still make some efforts to prepare your body for some alcohol.
Food and Water
Preparation is your best friend in these times. In addition to being a depressant, alcohol is a diuretic. This means it dehydrates you by making your body draw fluids out of your blood, organs and skin in an effort to metabolize the alcohol faster and evacuate it from your system.
To prevent dehydration, you will want to eat and drink to ensure your body is in peak condition to be able to handle all of the alcohol it is about to consume. If you really want to go above and beyond and try to fight off a hangover, supplements like vitamin B and zinc might be good to consider as well.
It’s important to drink plenty of water before, during and after to combat the dehydrating effects of alcohol. The general goal is half a litre of water for every drink you consume.
As a depressant, alcohol helps us fall asleep faster by acting like a sedative. Even though this may sound great after a long night out, it doesn’t get you the best quality of sleep. Research has shown that alcohol reduces the opportunity for us to fall into deep sleep, also known as restorative sleep which allows the body to heal and the brain to process thoughts and memories. This is why many of us feel unrested after a night of sleep despite knocking out after a few drinks.
To fight this, try to sleep prior to heading out. This can prepare your body for the damaging effects of the alcohol. It’s also best to prioritize sleep to combat a hangover. For every drink you consume, give yourself an hour of non-consumption prior to sleep so your body has time to metabolize the alcohol.
During the process of manufacturing alcohol, congeners are a byproduct of fermentation or distillation. There is current research to show that congeners can be components to develop the flavour profile of a drink. Despite how delicious they may be, there are various reports hypothesizing that congeners lead to hangovers as drinking beverages with more congeners can worsen the effect of a drink as opposed to beverages that have less. These studies theorize that hangovers are occurring with the body is trying to break down these congeners which can compete with the body’s attempts at breaking down the ethanol in the bloodstream. Lastly, there are theories that congeners stimulate the release of stress hormones which can cause inflammation in the body that leads to the hangover symptoms we tend to feel.
Some examples of drinks that have high congener content are brandy, red wine and rum while drinks with low congener content are vodka and beer. So if all else fails, choosing the right drink can help combat the hangover after a night out.
Above all, it’s important to drink safely and look out for others. Good luck out there!