If you’ve ever enjoyed alcohol, you’ve likely experience some degree of the phenomenon called the hangover. It’s not fun. But like any other reaction to something you consume, there’s actually real science behind hangovers, and why those eight margaritas leave you wondering the next morning why your own breathing is so LOUD. Scientists still haven’t officially discovered all the reasons why, but here’s everything you need to know.
Oh, and if you’re reading this and you’re already hungover, stop. This will be too many words for your brain right now, and you’re already lost. Jump over to this article on what to eat to start feeling better.
1. Alcohol = Acetaldehyde
You know that thing they tell you in college orientation that “alcohol is poison?” Well, it’s not entirely true, but not entirely false. Alcohol itself isn’t poison, but when it’s processed in your body it becomes acetaldehyde, which is in fact MORE toxic than alcohol. That chemical tends to cause symptoms like nausea, headache, and that general “I want to die” feeling.
2. Alcohol = Depressing
No, really. While it might make you FEEL happy while you’re drunk, alcohol is actually a depressant, which means that when you come down after the high (which usually is the next morning), your body chemistry is now the exact opposite of how it was the night before when EVERYONE was your best friend. That can actually make the physical symptoms of the hangover even worse.
3. Alcohol + Stomach Lining = Fremenies
Your stomach lining is designed to protect you against bad stuff, like for instance alcohol, getting into your insides, but alcohol is a major irritant for the lining in your stomach, so you don’t get away unscathed. An irritated stomach lining causes symptoms like the nausea and general stomach unpleasantness that are unmistakably hangover-ish.
4. So What Do You Do? (Besides Not Drink, Obviously)
You’ve probably heard plenty of “advice” about avoiding hangovers, but in reality, it’s all about making sure the alcohol doesn’t build up too many toxins in your system by helping your body absorb and flush it out.
- Drink plenty of water, and NOT just after you’re already drunk. If you’re bent on having a wild night, go for it – but alternate the drinks with some water.
- Eat something before you start drinking – and err on the side of something a little too heavy, to help soak up the booze later on.
- When in doubt, avoid sugar. Those super-sweet cocktails might be fun, but the higher the sugar in alcohol the worse the hangover. Period.
- Leave enough time to start sobering up before you go to sleep. You’ll probably be very tired once the night winds down, but don’t give in. Leaving time to recover before going to sleep will counteract that foggy feeling of a hangover.
Is there anything else about the science behind hangovers that you’d like to share with us? Tell us in the comments below!