“Heavy hangs the head that last night wore the crown.” One of my favorite Shakespearean lines by way of John Waters, and I’m reminded of it every time I wake up feeling rough after a wild night. It’s all fun and games until we wake up dehydrated and dry heaving. Halloween is often a night of excess for kids of all ages, whether it’s too many mini Snickers or too many Ginger Balls. With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year many a head will undoubtedly be hanging extra low on Sunday morning. Before the Halloween madness begins, let us explore some pre and post game plans to minimize the damage.
Hair of the dog – It’s so tempting to attempt to piece yourself together with a spicy Bloody Mary or an ice cold beer, but most experts agree that drinking more alcohol will just end up doing more damage. The hangover is essentially your body going through withdrawal symptoms from too much booze the night before, so the morning after cocktail is only putting off those symptoms. It gives your body more to deal with and is only delaying the inevitable hangover pain.
Grease is the word – More bad news, kids… eating a greasy burger or deliciously fatty breakfast might not be the miracle hangover cure you think it is. Eating some fatty foods before a night of drinking can help, the oil will coat your stomach lining and can help to slow down the absorption of alcohol – but it won’t stop it from happening. A little pre-game pizza can help get you through that long night of partying with a little less pain, but it can’t stave off the hangover completely. Indulging in some greasy goodies when you’re feeling hungover might temporarily feel good (it’s called comfort food for a reason), but a heavy meal after a night of drinking can just irritate your already troubled tummy. Eating before a night of boozing is a better bet, and it’s the perfect excuse to order pizza (or two).
Alka-Seltzer – “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!” Alka-Seltzer has been around for over 80 years, and this fizzy stuff has been used by party animals to help soothe a booze soaked body, there’s even a Morning Relief formula made specifically for hangovers. Alka-Seltzer contains sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda), and it can help settle your stomach but don’t start plopping fizzies just yet. It also contains aspirin and caffeine, the former can irritate your stomach and the latter will narrow your blood vessels and raise your blood pressure which can, you guessed it, make you feel even worse.
Take two and call me in the morning – Another “cure” that’s really more of a band-aid, over the counter pain killers like aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. may not be the cure-all you were hoping. If you do go this route, most experts agree to stick with NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen) and stay away from acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) as it can cause liver damage. Oh, and more bad news – the NSAIDs that won’t damage your liver can still irritate your stomach lining. Basically, these pain killers may help some people with some symptoms of a hangover but they won’t give you complete relief. In some cases, they can actually do much more damage.
Coffee – It might put a little pep in your step but once you start crashing you might be facing a nasty caffeine withdrawal headache on top of dehydration. If you’ve gotta have that cup of coffee in the morning, it’s best to hydrate with some water and give your body a little time to recover before throwing back your favorite caffeine concoction.
Water & Sports Drinks – Possibly the soundest of the hangover remedies is to attempt to re-hydrate your booze-addled brain. Start sipping water as soon as you can! Sports drinks have those magic little electrolytes that help with your recovery process, just remember they can be loaded with sugar. Get the best of both worlds, and make sure your fridge is stocked with coconut water. It’s hydrating, chock full of electrolytes, is naturally low calorie, and has less sugar than sports drinks and fruit juice.
Sleeping Beauty – Your body metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour, so any extra time you can spend sleeping though the process makes things a little less painful. This is my personal favorite hangover “cure” because I am fortunate enough to be a easy sleeper and can (usually) fall asleep the instant my head hits the pillow. Essentially, I sleep through the majority of my hangovers and wake up feeling pretty good. If you’re a light sleeper make sure to have things that can help you stay asleep like: earplugs or noise cancellation headphones, eye mask, fresh sheets, etc. – whatever you need to help you stay comfy enough to get some extra Zzzzs.
In conclusion, there doesn’t appear to be any one magic bullet to zap a nasty hangover. Dang. There are some things we can do to help ease the pain, but it doesn’t appear that science has advanced enough to develop that miraculous cure. We don’t want to hear it, but we know… the best plan is to avoid going completely bananas in the first place. Drink smart by pacing yourself and making sure you have plenty of water in between rounds, try having one glass of water for every drink you drain. When that one friend starts shouting “SHOTS!” – shut that fool down and go get some tacos instead. Boooooring, I know, but it’s sound advice from an old lady who likes to drink.