Chances are that if you're celebrating New Year's Eve, you'll be following it up with a hangover. Whether it's minor or a complete killer, a hangover can ruin your day. Who would ever want to spend the first day of the new year with one? To make your lives easier this New Year's Eve, here are a few myths busted.
Myth: Hangovers aren’t a big deal
If you don’t consider headaches, muscle aches, vomiting, shakiness, and poor sleep to be a big deal, then yes. These are just a handful of the symptoms of a hangover. They’re caused by excessive drinking, but to be more specific, they’re triggered by inflammatory responses, irritated stomach lining, and low blood sugar, to name only a few. Drinking too much alcohol really screws with your body and requires great care and time to recover.
Myth: Men and women experience hangovers equally
This seems logical, but it’s actually not the case. If a man and woman drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman is likely to feel greater effects. Men actually have a slightly higher percentage of water in their bodies1, 60-65%, versus women who have 55-60%. More water means more dilution means less hangover.
Myth: Only heavy drinkers get hangovers
Even a small amount of alcohol has the ability to affect your body. A hangover is the aftermath. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee a lot. Dehydration is a big reason for feeling awful the day after a night of drinking – even a couple of drinks. Alcohol also irritates the stomach lining, which is the reason for an upset stomach. A few drinks probably won’t take the same toll on your body as a major binge, but headaches and/or slight nausea are likely results.2
Myth: Wine will have the gentlest hangover
The tannins in red wine can actually cause headaches without even involving a hangover. White wine will have a somewhat less painful hangover, as it contains only 10-11% alcohol. But it causes the stomach lining to get irritated, which makes you feel sick. Technically, beer will produce the least painful hangover because of its low alcohol content, but the more you drink, the more hungover you’ll be, and the symptoms are all the same, anyway.
Myth: Diet cocktails will produce less of a hangover
Nope, not true. Diet cocktails are intended to lower calories, not hangover. The amount of alcohol in these drinks is no different than “regular” alcohol.
Myth: Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear
The order you drink particular kinds of alcohol in doesn’t affect the hangover results. They all end up in the same place and mix accordingly. It’s the amount of alcohol consumed that matters. However, there’s something helpful in the rhyme. Those who start drinking hard alcohol consume a higher amount of alcohol in less time (than if they started with beer). But when you recognize it’s time to slow your drinking, because beer contains less alcohol per serving than hard liquor, switching to beer can help slow your alcohol consumption, leaving you less hungover than if you continued with vodka or gin.
Myth: Eat carbs before bed
While the desire to eat after a drunken night is all too real, it doesn’t actually help with a hangover. For one thing, the food needs to be in your stomach before the drinking starts, to slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. However, that being said, actual fat is what slows the rate that alcohol is absorbed. Opting for a fattening food is your best bet – but still not a guarantee. What will help a hangover before bed? Drinking water. Lots of it.
Myth: Pop some pain relievers before bed
While good in theory, over the counter pain relievers only last for a few hours. They’ll most likely have worn off by the time you wake up. The next best alternative is to swallow a few right when you wake up and chase them with a lot of water. Be sure not to use acetaminophen though, as the combination with alcohol may hurt your liver.
Myth: Alcohol helps you sleep
A little bit of alcohol may make you sleepy, but too much alcohol screws with the quality of your sleep.3 Alcohol increases the alpha activity in your brain, which offsets the restful and restorative activity that’s also going on. While you may be able to get to sleep more easily by drinking, the quality of sleep itself is compromised.
Myth: Drinking more will relieve a hangover
All this does is postpone a hangover – possibly making it worse when your blood alcohol content finally does hit zero.
Myth: Coffee is the cure
Coffee may make you more alert, but it doesn’t offset the effects of drinking. In fact, coffee could actually make you more dehydrated and make your hangover that much worse. The best morning solution is water, or anything that will help hydrate you.