For as long as humans have been imbibing in spirits, we’ve been relentlessly hunting for ways to avoid the morning-after blues. When we indulge in alcoholic beverages, our bodies and brains are flooded with feel-good stuff — happiness, energy, relaxation. But the flood of goodness leaves a detrimental deficit once the alcohol wears off. Naturally, we all want to keep the good feelings going (or at least prevent the opposite effect), which is why a legitimate hangover cure is so deeply coveted among drinkers. This is also why so many hangover myths have been perpetuated over the centuries. Here are a few of the most common hangover myths debunked.
- “One Single Thing Can Cure It All” — A shot of olive oil, raw eggs, a plate full of oysters, pickle juice. We’ve all heard that these seemingly random foods are the miracle cure for the hangover. The issue? Hangovers aren’t single-issue voters. They come with a whole suite of side effects and symptoms, which has made it tough for humanity to pin down a do-it-all cure that actually works. Because of this, the hangover requires a broad-spectrum solution, one that addresses multiple symptoms at once. A combination of remedies, such as popping a CBD gummy when you wake up and eating a hearty breakfast, is really the key.
- “P.M. Painkillers Can Help” — Some drinkers swear by the painkillers-before-bed trick. The idea is that by taking some aspirin or acetaminophen before bed, you’ll prevent headache and discomfort the next day. While you may get better rest by frontloading the relief, this certainly isn’t the best route to take because many over-the-counter medications do not mix well with alcohol. In fact, the experts say that taking acetaminophen (including Tylenol) while drinking could cause liver damage. Instead, use natural options like CBD to manage symptoms.
- “Exercise Can Help a Hangover” — You may have heard partiers claim that it’s possible to sweat out your hangover, either by a hard-hitting session at the gym or by cranking up the heat and humidifier in your bedroom. The truth? Yes, you technically can sweat out alcohol, but that’s probably not going to help your symptoms. In actuality, sweating will only make you more dehydrated. And, as we all know, drinking zaps us of H2O, which causes many of the most unpleasant side effects, so you don’t want to do anything that compromises hydration.
- “Breakfast: The Greasier the Better” — Anecdotal evidence says that a big, greasy breakfast is a foolproof hangover cure, but that is only partially true. Actually, eating heavy, greasy foods may slow down the absorption of alcohol, which will slow your hangover and only make you more miserable. On top of that, greasy and high-fat foods may worsen symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and inflammation, so they’re best to avoid. Instead, drink plenty of water and opt for foods rich in vitamins and minerals, as these will help your body recover faster.
- “Hair of the Dog Works Every Time” — Chugging a mimosa or a screwdriver the morning after a big night of drinking can definitely bring some short-term relief. The booze can help provide a quick perk of energy and dull some of your symptoms. The problem? You’re going to have to stop drinking sometime, and the hangover will only be compounded when you do. Plus, it may worsen some symptoms, such as nausea. Unfortunately, sipping on some hair of the dog is not the healthiest way to manage your symptoms and can lead to alcohol dependency.
- “Hangovers Are Reserved for Binge-Drinkers’ — Another common myth surrounding hangovers is that they only happen to people who drink in excess. The truth is that a hangover can plague you even after a couple of drinks, especially if you sip on stuff that’s more likely to trigger symptoms, such as dark liquor or wine. The truth is that the only way to avoid a hangover altogether is to not drink.
- “The Order of Drinks Matters” — Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. This oft-repeated drinker’s maxim sounds great in theory, and it’s an easy one to follow, which is why it’s among the more popular myths on this list. The downside? Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work. In fact, a 2019 study put the tidbit to the test and found that the order in which alcohol types are consumed seems to matter little in preventing hangovers. Bummer.
- “Alcohol Will Help You Sleep” — Those of us with sleep issues know that not getting a good night’s rest can take a serious toll on our day-to-day lives, leaving us feeling zapped of energy and unable to focus. The effects are compounded when you’re also dealing with the pain of a hangover. For some, a drink or two before bedtime can be a valuable tool at helping us wind down and fall asleep quicker. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually help us stay asleep. In reality, alcohol can be disruptive to sleep because it can reduce REM and decrease your sleep quality.
So What Does Work?
Everybody wants to be able to enjoy a few drinks without the dreaded day-after lows, but there’s simply no one-size-fits-all cure. The reality is that dealing with a hangover comes down to prevention — drinking lots of water throughout the night and avoiding triggers like dark liquor — as well as addressing things symptomatically. Kicking the dreadful feeling usually involves a combination of sleep, healthy food, plenty of water and boosters like a CBD supplement.
With this in mind, it’s important that you prioritize using hangover treatments that really work because many of the myths stated above can exacerbate your condition and make you feel worse. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about finding what works for you, whether it is sleeping it off or avoiding drinking altogether. Experimenting with different things and avoiding common myths will help you feel better even after a particularly rowdy night.