It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and we all know what that means: At this time tomorrow many of us are going to be slowly sitting up in bed thinking: Why? Never again and How can I make this go away?
I’m talking of course about the dreaded hangover. We’ve all been there, and we all have a method to deal with it. Some try aspirin and coffee, some think bacon is the cure, and some think the hair of the dog that bit you is the way to salvation. The sad truth is, the only way to cure a hangover is to avoid drinking in the first place; however, that’s pretty much like telling someone the only way to avoid pregnancy is to just not have sex (never gonna happen).
You’re going to drink and have a good time, so here are some tips for alleviating as much pain as you can the next day. [Note: I am not a doctor. Please talk to your doctor for ways to deal with hangovers, or if you think you have a problem with alcohol. And, of course, do not drink and drive.]
Tip #1: Drink water. This tip right here can pretty much save your life (figuratively speaking). Alcohol has a nasty habit of dehydrating your body, which is why you feel so sluggish and horrible the next day. Drink plenty of water before you go out to the bar. Order a glass of water with every single alcoholic drink you consume — and drink it. I once apologized to a bartender for ordering water because I felt like it was a waste of time and money for him. He told me he wished more people would order water. I tipped him for his effort, and that made me feel free to order as much water as I wanted from then on.
Also, make sure you have a glass of water next to your bed before you crash for the night. If you have to, before you go out, put a glass — or three — of water on the nightstand so during the night when you wake up (and you will after a few hours’ sleep; alcohol causes you to have a fitful, disruptive night of sleep), you can sip water without having to get up. Because you know you’re not going to want to get up.
Tip #2: Eat something. This seems like a no-brainer, but making sure you have a full stomach is important. Eating as you drink isn’t a bad idea, either, so bring snacks along with you if you can — crackers are easy enough to carry around. While you’re setting your glass — or three — of water on the nightstand prior to going out, add a box of low-sodium Wheat Thins (or what have you). Again, you’re not going to want to get up once you’re lying in your bed exhausted, wondering why the room is spinning.
One tip I’ve used before is to eat a banana before I fall asleep. Alcohol rids your body of necessary potassium, which is why the headaches, nausea and exhaustion occur the next day. Bananas contain potassium, as do strawberries, raisins, cantaloupe, apricots, watermelon, tomatoes, beans, and beef. Fruit and fruit juice can also provide you with vitamins needed to rid the body of toxins, so before going out for the evening, go to the store and load up. Sports drinks (Gatorade) also are a good way to replace electrolytes the next day.
It’s been suggested that ginger can help alleviate nausea. Keeping some ginger ale on hand is a good way to test this out.
For many people, coffee is the preferred way to alleviate a hangover the next day. Coffee in this case is both a blessing and a curse. If you drink coffee so regularly that you get headaches when you skip a cup in the morning, by all means drink coffee. You don’t want to add a caffeine headache to your problems. The problem with coffee is that it will further dehydrate you, and you need all the hydration you can get. Drink water if you can, or if you want something warm, go with decaffeinated tea (ginger if you can find it — two birds, one stone and all that).
Tip #3: Avoid the hair of the dog: Some people swear that getting up and drinking more alcohol immediately is the way to kill a hangover. First of all, that sounds like the beginning of a cycle that ends up with you sharing a room at Promises Malibu with Lindsay Lohan. Second, come on. You may feel better for a little while, but all you are doing is further dehydrating your body. When you eventually stop drinking, you’ll be much worse off than if you had just consumed water.
Tip #4: Pain relievers. Some people swear by taking aspirin right before drinking. Loading up on too much aspirin is not good for your stomach, and since the effects of the aspirin will wear off long before you’re feeling the pain the next day, you may as well wait until that headache hits, so you’re not popping too many of these pills. After you wake up the next morning is the time to take a pain reliever.
Tip #5: Sleep. The only thing that will actually “cure” a hangover is time. What should you do with this time? Sleep it off. Your body needs time to recover. Let it.
Enjoy your night out. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s Saturday! You have all day tomorrow to recover. But if you plan ahead a little, and are responsible with your drinking, you’ll be able to have a good time tonight and still have a nice Sunday.