The party last night was a blast and you don't regret a minute of it. This morning is a different story. Now you're tired, cranky, nauseous, and absolutely miserable. You're hungover.
No matter who you are or how much alcohol you drank, the symptoms of a hangover are pretty universal. While there are ways that you can prevent a hangover, that doesn't do you much good at the moment.
The stages of hangovers may be common, but the severity of yours will vary. The time it takes to recover will as well; some hangovers last just a few hours and others can have you feeling ill all day, or at least until you get a good amount of sleep.
Stage 1: Where Am I and What Happened?
Maybe you remembered to set your alarm and maybe you didn't. Either way, those first few moments of being awake bring a few questions. You'll groggily look around the room and figure out if you're in bed or barely made it to the sofa. Then, you'll try to piece together the last few hours of the night before.
Hopefully, it's pretty easy and you can remember the cab ride home or your designated driver dragging you inside. If you need a little help, turn to your phone and check call logs, messages, and photos to see if you said or did anything that wasn't cool. A quick stop by your favorite social media platforms may not be a bad idea, too.
With luck, you can shake off the dreariness, head to the kitchen for water, and rethink your decisions for next time. The hangover can be a powerful deterrent for future parties as long as you remember how you felt in this round.
Stage 2: The Need for Instant Relief
Your night of drinking led to a few morning aches and pains. It's only natural that you want to head to the medicine cabinet for a quick pain reliever. If you can, try to avoid this as your stomach and liver already have enough to deal with. Avoid Tylenol (and any acetaminophen product) which can do further damage to your liver when alcohol is present . Aspirin, ibuprofen, and NSAIDs are better choices as long as you stick to the recommended dose.
An ice-cold glass of water is one of your best bets for relief. If you need to, pop an effervescent tablet such as Alka-Seltzer in there. It can help ease your queasy stomach while the water rehydrates you, which is the primary concern right now.
In addition to water, herbal teas will lift your mood without caffeine, fruit juices will help restore much-needed vitamins, and the carbonation of sparkling water can ease your stomach. Try to avoid coffee because caffeine will dehydrate you further. If your hangover is mild, however, a quick cup may perk you up.
Stage 3: Tired, Cranky, and Delusional
Everyone's hangover is different at this stage and some people handle it better than others. You might simply be exhausted and slightly light-headed. Then again, you might not be able to tolerate another human being! Or, you could be feeling vertigo and unable to even sit up in bed.
The effects of a hangover can significantly affect your mood. To combat the irritability and anxiety, try to get up and take your mind off the pain. If the sun is out this morning, step outside and sit down for a few minutes. You may need sunglasses because you'll be more sensitive to light, but a little sunshine and fresh air can do wonders.
Another trick is to take a shower. The effects of cool, running water can wash away a lot of angst and give you a few moments to think and relax.
If you're irritable, the most important thing you can do is avoid conflict. Tell whoever you live with that you'll talk to them later, but now is just not a good time. This will help keep things calm and aid in your recovery.
Stage 4: Can I Keep Food Down?
If you reached the hangover level where your ability to keep food down is suspect, take some time to evaluate the situation thoroughly. Slowly drink a second glass of water or opt for some hot tea before you make any decisions about food.
When nausea passes, ease into whole foods and choose wisely. Some hangover regulars swear by greasy burgers, fries, and milkshakes, but it may be best to consider healthier options.
Before you move to solid foods, think about mixing up a detox tonic or healthy smoothie filled with whatever fruits and veggies you have in the fridge. These are quick, light ways to restore essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
When you're ready for some food, opt for quick fried eggs or potassium-rich bananas. Even a cup of bouillon or a sports drink will give you back the nutrients you need. Don't overdo the food, but take it one step at a time.
Stage 5: Call the Day a Bust?
There may be those mornings when you need to make a big decision. Do you shirk responsibility and call in sick? Hopefully, you thought ahead and didn't party this hard the night before work. Yet, maybe you were supposed to meet a friend or your mother this morning.
Your job is a tough call and that is a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If you can get yourself moving and at least fake productivity, do it. The last thing you want is your nightlife affecting your career.
Family and friends might be a little more understanding. Getting out of the house may not be a bad idea as long as you're up for it. Also, remember that you may still be drunk, so seriously check yourself before driving.
Stage 6: Give up and Keep Drinking?
When you've reached the point where your hangover is just too much to bear, having another drink can be a tempting thought. It's especially true if you have a few shots left in that bottle of vodka but this is not a great idea.
If you decide to start drinking again, you're just prolonging the misery. It may bring some temporary relief but if you go too far, you'll just be back in the same place tomorrow morning. Tough it out, lay on the sofa and do nothing, and get another hour of sleep. Whatever you do, try to avoid another drink.
Too much to ask? Should you decide that the only relief you can get will come from "the hair of the dog" then at least get yourself some nutrition at the same time. No, the grains from a straight shot of whiskey don't count!
Instead, opt for a bloody Mary (better yet, skip the booze altogether). The tomato juice is filled with the vitamins that you need right now and the spices will help clear your senses. Some drinkers will even have one ready before they go out at night, but you can try that next time.
The Best Hangover Cure
There is nothing that will magically make your hangover go away. You can try all sorts of things, but the best cure is a combination of time, rest, and hydration. Drink more water, get some sleep, and wait it out. It will go away and you'll feel better soon.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 1983, Acetaminophen. U.S. National Library of Medicine