We understand. Having fun with friends sometimes means enjoying more than one glass of red wine. Still, don’t go reaching for the hair of the dog. There are healthier (and more effective) ways to wake up ready to get back on track.
While there’s no surefire way to prevent a hangover, other than abstaining, there are things you can do to make the morning after a little less miserable.
Here are 11 scientifically supported methods to help deal with a hangover, and possibly prevent it from happening in the first place.
1. Sleep it off
Though you might have knocked off the second your head hit the pillow after a night of drinking, any sleep you did get wasn’t sound. Research shows that alcohol disrupts both the quality and length of your slumber.
Before you start trying to function like a regular human being, hit the snooze button and give yourself a few more hours to doze off the effects of the night before.
2. Refuel at the breakfast table
Drinking alcohol without enough food in your system can cause a drop in blood sugar. This could be one reason why you feel so shaky and fuzzy-brained the next morning. Bump up those carbs with a glass of apple or orange juice and a slice of wheat toast. It’s also a good idea to pair them with some protein like eggs or yogurt to help keep your blood sugar balanced.
3. Grab some ginseng
Ginseng has been a staple of Chinese medicine for centuries, and with good reason. This humble root has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Along with boosting the immune system to fight off colds and other ailments, ginseng may help your body break down alcohol more efficiently. Ginseng also has anti-nausea properties.
One study tested out a red ginseng hangover remedy against plain water in 25 men who’d had a glass of whiskey. Men in the ginseng group had lower blood alcohol levels and fewer hangover symptoms. Just make sure to check with your doc before taking ginseng as it could interact with certain medications.
4. Give your electrolytes a boost
When you lose extra fluids from alcohol, your electrolytes suffer, too. Bring your levels back up by snacking on foods like bananas, spinach, kale, or avocados. Or, pour yourself a tall glass of a sports drink like Gatorade.
If you’ve got Pedialyte in the fridge, it’s perfect for those nights when you overdo it. This rehydration solution isn’t just for kids anymore. One bottle has twice the sodium and five times as much potassium as the same size bottle of Gatorade. There isn’t any research that this will kick your hangover to the curb, but in theory, it should help.
5. Sip ginger tea
Hangovers sometimes come with a side of an upset stomach. If your stomach is in knots, try a warm mug of ginger tea to settle things down. Studies have shown that ginger helps combat nausea and vomiting from a range of conditions.
7. Chow down
It’s long been known by researchers that drinking on an empty stomach allows alcohol to be absorbed by your body more quickly. And just because beer has calories, doesn’t mean it counts as dinner.
Before breaking out the bottle, get in a good meal with lots of protein and healthy carbs. You may also consider a bowl of oats, which has been shown to protect against alcohol-induced liver damage in lab mice (recognizing mice are not humans and those studies are needed to validate these results).
8. Chug a glass of pear juice
This is one hangover remedy that requires you to be proactive. Drinking pear juice once you’re already blitzed won’t help.
Before you head out for the night, you might want to try downing an 8-ounce glass of Korean pear juice.
In a 2013 study, this traditional remedy helped some test subjects break down alcohol and lowered blood alcohol levels, making the morning-after symptoms a little less intense.
Before you go stocking up on all the pear juice you can find, it’s important to note that this was a very small study (just 14 lucky subjects), and not everyone experienced benefits, including those with a special genotype.
9. Go one for one
In a well-known study from 2010, researchers supplied a group of men with beer containing 4 percent alcohol in hot, humid conditions (sounds like a proper party to us). They then analyzed each person’s pee over the next 4 hours.
The study found two interesting points. First, the more dehydrated you are, the more your blood alcohol concentration goes up.
Second, alcohol dries you out by channeling more fluid into your urine, but this can be mitigated by good old H2O.
To prevent a dehydration-fueled hangover or migraine episode, continuously drink water throughout the night. Try matching each alcoholic drink with one glass of water.
To spice it up, order a carbonated water with a splash of lime juice. You might just forget you’re not actually drinking a cocktail.
10. Keep it light
Darker drinks, like red wine, whiskey, or rum, contain more congeners than their lighter counterparts, such as white wine.
Congeners are produced during the fermentation along with ethanol. Some research has shown that a higher concentration of these compounds is linked with some hangover symptoms, like vomiting. Alcohol aficionados should know that the jury is still out on the subject, though.
Still, if you’re not willing to risk it, perhaps skipping the whiskey in favor of vodka may make tomorrow morning suck less.
11. Skip the carbonation
Sorry to burst your bubble (hah, see what we did there?), but we recommend that you pass on the champagne or any other alcohol that’s mixed with carbonated beverages, like your go-to rum and cola.
Research shows that the carbon dioxide gas that forms those tiny bubbles may cause your digestive system to absorb alcohol more quickly.
The only surefire way to avoid a hangover is to skip the booze altogether. You can also limit yourself to one or two drinks on a full stomach, interspersed with glasses of water throughout the night.
But listen, here at Greatist, we know that life happens. You wouldn’t be the first to think that final piña colada at yesterday’s happy hour was one drink too many. No judgment here.
So, if you woke up declaring, “I’m never, ever drinking again” with a head pounding in pain, it’s time to treat your body to a little TLC. Restore your blood sugar levels back to normal with healthy carbs and fruit juices.
Throughout the day, be sure to stay hydrated, sip on ginger tea or a sports drink, and get some rest. Most importantly, be patient. While it feels like this is going to last forever, you’ll shake off this hangover in no time.