When it comes to hangovers, there’s no such thing as magic—but there are a number of things you can do to help dramatically shorten the duration of the symptoms. Read on to learn more about the tried-and-true hangover cures that are backed by evidence.
1. Fluids, Fluids, Fluids
This may seem obvious, but the majority of the symptoms you feel when you are hungover are actually due to dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it increases the production of urine. This deprives your body of the balanced hydration levels you need to function. If you really overdo it, your body can reject the alcohol by vomiting—which leads to even more dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include increased thirst (although you may not feel this while you are drinking alcohol), fatigue, headache, and dizziness. A good rule of thumb when you’re out on the town is to always ask for a glass of water when you order a drink—if you prevent dehydration from happening in the first place, you’ll feel much better the next day.
2. Take a Hangover Pill
Hangover prevention pills have all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need to prevent hangovers, including essential vitamins B1, B6, B12, C and E, Dihydromyricetin (a tree extract that has been used as an anti-alcohol compound in Chinese and Korean medicine for centuries), N-acetylcysteine (an antioxidant that helps fight the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism if your body) Milk Thistle Seed Extract (a liver-strengthening compound that helps restore your body’s natural levels of glutathione) and prickly pear fruit powder (a supplement that has been proven to reduce headaches, nausea, and dizziness from drinking). There are also detox pills available to take after your night out so you can start feeling better faster.
3. Catch up on Sleep
Research has demonstrated that too much alcohol leads to diminished sleep quality and disturbed sleep, which can compromise your ability to recover from drinking. It’s a myth that alcohol helps you sleep; moderate levels might help some individuals initially fall asleep, but the quality of sleep is usually compromised. This means that it’s extra important the day after drinking to catch up on a good night of sleep. Your body is better at restoring cellular damage when you are asleep, so catching up on rest is the fastest way to get back on your feet.
4. Drink Vodka, Not Tequila
Alcohol is made via a process called ethanol fermentation, which converts sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol. There are chemical bi-products called “congeners” that are formed during this process, which are toxic and require detoxification by your body after consumption. Some types of alcohol have more congeners than others; vodka, gin, and rum have fewer, while tequila, whiskey and cognac are all high in congeners. Try drinking alcohol with low amounts of congeners to help lower your risk for a hangover the next day.
5. Know Your Own Limits
Alcohol affects everyone differently. The degree to which varying levels of alcohol intake affect you depends on a number of factors, including body weight, gender, food consumption, the type of alcohol you consume and how hydrated you are. The best hangover prevention is to keep your own limits in mind before you go out!