You wake up with a splitting headache, roiling stomach, and the inability to form coherent thoughts. Perhaps you overdid it just a little last night. “Never again,” you swear to yourself for the 100th time, as you stumble off to the kitchen in search of a bottle of water and some breakfast. If this sounds like you, then check out our list of things guaranteed to give you a hangover (or make it worse). If you avoid them next time you go out for a few drinks, hopefully, the aftermath won’t be quite so brutal.
As if you didn’t have enough reasons to quit already, smoking can actually make your hangover worse. A recent study found that people who smoke the same day they drink are more likely to have more severe hangovers (or even have a hangover at all) than people who didn’t smoke. The study compared people who drank the same number of drinks, but one group smoked while the other did not. Additional research has shown that tobacco smoke contains acetaldehyde, which also builds up in your system when you drink and is linked to hangover symptoms. Other studies have shown that nicotine receptors in the brain are related to our subjective response to drinking. The study didn’t narrow down whether nicotine alone is a contributing factor to hangovers, so the jury is still out on whether you can safely vape while you imbibe.
2. Sugary mixers
Next time you go out, consider nixing the soda or juice in your adult beverages. As any soda addict can tell you, sugar-filled or carbonated drinks contribute to dehydration. The carbonation also causes your stomach to empty faster than it normally does, which can affect your blood alcohol level. While dehydration alone doesn’t cause hangovers, it does cause a wicked headache that frequently goes along with it. So next time you crave a whisky and cola or vodka and cranberry juice, consider ordering the whisky on the rocks or the vodka in a martini instead.
3. Forgetting to drink water
As previously mentioned, dehydration contributes to a splitting headache that frequently accompanies most hangovers. Alcohol is a diuretic, which makes you urinate more often than your body actually needs to. As you expel water from your system, your body will become dehydrated unless you combat the effects of water. Place a litre bottle of water on your pillow so you remember to drink it before falling into bed later. Of course, if you typically don’t make it to your bed before passing out for the night, it may be better to just drink water between rounds at the bar.
That’s right: the amount you exercise can affect your hangover. The reason ties into the whole dehydration factor we just discussed. The body is 90% water, and people who work out have more muscle mass, which is more effective at storing the body’s water. That means that if you’re in good shape, your body will lose less water through the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Use this as motivation next time you’re toiling away on the treadmill — you’re actually preparing for your next pub crawl.
5. Mixing different kinds of alcohol?
We’ve all heard the “beer before liquor, never been sicker” piece of advice. While it’s oft-repeated, this old drunk’s tale isn’t actually true. Studies have shown that mixing different kinds of alcohol doesn’t necessarily cause or worsen a hangover. The myth is likely tied to the effect of the congeners that we just discussed. While mixing different kinds of alcohol won’t make your hangover worse by itself, imbibing dark beers along with your gin and tonic — or whisky and cola between rounds of pale ale — definitely, will.