23 of the best hangover cures that actually work
A wise man once said drinking alcohol is like borrowing fun from tomorrow. He might've been right, but here are a few ways to help you through the hangover!
So you got utterly debauched last night didn't you? Now it's time to wade through the motions of regret, self-pity and a heavy head (perhaps due to our cheap cocktail recipes, sorry).
You have foggy memories of how life used to be, and will do ANYTHING to undo this pain.
We can't promise an instant miracle cure for hangovers, but almost. It depends on what poison you chose and how well your body can cope with seeing it off. We can however offer some very effective tips on becoming human once again.
It's far easier to prevent a hangover so we're starting this guide there, but you can skip to aftermath cures if you're already on the edge.
Before you go out
Line your stomach
You've probably heard people waffling on about how dangerous it is to go out on an empty stomach, well turns out there's truth to that.
Devour a nice greasy meal before drinking, the fat will help to line the walls of your stomach. This slows down the rate of alcohol absorption which means you'll be less likely to wake up with a splitting headache.
Drinking a pint of milk will also have the same effect, and a shot of olive oil helps too. Yum.
Drink LOADS of water
Drinking alcohol blocks the creation of a chemical called vasopressin. This means that your kidneys will send water straight to the bladder instead of retaining it in the body – and is the reason you need so many toilet trips once you 'break the seal'.
Drinking booze can expel up to four times as much water, quickly leading to dehydration, the main cause of those dreaded hangover headaches and dry mouths.
Want to wake up feeling fresh (and amazed)? Simply have a glass of water between each bev.
Stock up on the necessary supplies
Prepare for the worst. You really don't want to end up in the blackhole of craving a cure but unable to even crawl out the front door to the nearest shop.
So take a note of anything that sounds like it will save you from yourself in tips 11-14 below, and get stocked up in advance! You'll thank us tomorrow.
Okay, we get that this one's kind of a long term goal rather than a quick fix, but you're much more likely to be affected by hangovers if you're not fit, active and healthy.
During the night
Keep it light
As you've probably already figured from trial and error, different types of alcohol produce different types of hangover.
This is down to the congeners in the drink – something which is produced when the alcohol is fermented. Basically, the more congeners there are the more rotten your hangover is likely to be.
As a rule, there are more congeners in darker drinks such as red wine, whiskey or dark rum. White wine, vodka and gin on the other hand contain much less, so are a better choice (but may still leave you feeling rough!).
Don't overdo it on the dance moves
Now we love a good dance but don't overdo it or you'll feel like one of Michael Jackson's zombies in the morning.
Science tells us that if you totally exhaust yourself, you'll end up getting even more dehydrated and depleting your energy levels much faster.
No need a to be a party pooper though, just don't twerk too hard.
First off, it's best not to walk home alone drunk, so find your buddy first. And don't attempt to walk in heels.
This aside, walking home can help you to sober up and clear your head, making for a much less painful morning time.
It's our duty here to remind you that the NHS recommends that guys should not drink more than 3-4 units of booze a day, or 2-3 if you're a girl. To put this in perspective, a small glass of wine is about 1.5 units and a pint of beer somewhere between 2 and 3.
It takes your body around 1 hour to break down 1 unit of alcohol (basically a shot). Cross this line and your hangover is cooking.
We know that students will probably go over these limits, but it is worth thinking about how much you're drinking and how to pace yourself.
If you leave a gap between your next drink you'll give your body a chance to process the alcohol you're drinking and lessen the hangover effect.
Keep off the
We all know that pacing yourself and drinking some soft drinks is a smart idea, but be careful what you choose kids. Drinking fizzy drinks will actually speed up the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your system and so rather defeat the point.
And, before you ask, this also applies if the alcoholic drink your gluging is fizzy too. So a vodka orange or apple juice would be a better choice than a vodka coke mixer, for example.
You probably knew this anyway, but mixing different types of alcohol never really ends well in the hangover stakes.
Because different types of alcohol have different level of congeners as well as other chemicals, they'll all have a slightly different effect on you.
Add it all together and the result is a mixed up mess and a banging headache. Pick your poison of choice and stick to it!
Keep drinking that water
Yea, we know, we mentioned this one already but drinking water while you're out boogying and a bit when you get back will help to make sure you stay hydrated.
The main reason you get headaches is because you don't have enough water in your system; the other organs in your body will steal supply from your brain causing it to shrink and cause owwies and upsets in your head.
Anyway, what's the point of making sure you're hydrated beforehand if you're only going to throw it all away later?
The morning after
AKA Doomsday. Waking up from the night before is something no one looks forward to.
Alcohol can take up to 11 hours to leave your system, but these tried and tested tips will help you to recover faster.
Your first thought will probably be to reach for some painkillers, and it's not a bad shout as they will help with your headache – just make sure to pick the right ones.
The most effective is ibuprofen, but only the recommended dose.
Aspirin will do the trick in relieving a headache, but it can soon wreak havoc if you've got a sensitive stomach and potentially make you feel more sick.
Ideally, if you're still functioning before you slump into bed after a big night, knock back an ibuprofen with a cup of water to help you along.
Replace lost salts
Dehydration is the biggest reason you feel so crap. Water will help, but isotonic drinks like Lucozade Sport and Powerade go another step. These can work wonders on hangovers, as they're designed to replace sugars and salts quickly. They'll give you energy and rehydrate you.
If you're really in a bad way, take a Dioralyte sachet. Yes, we know them for treating diarrhoea (which you may well have) but being hungover puts your body in a similar position with depleted salts and minerals.
Borage capsules have been proven to be the best hangover cure, and we can vouch for this offering from Nature's Way.
There are all sorts of products like these claiming to be 'hangover cures'. Things like Berocca, Chaser and Rebound can help, but are pricey and scientists aren't all that convinced. Some suggest you benefit more from the water you drink with them than the tablets themselves.
That said, some of you swear by them, so don't write anything off if it works for you!
Eating, even if it seems like the worst idea in the world, is really important for getting you on the road to recovery. You can't eat just anything, but there are a few options.
Depending on how bad you feel, a trusty fry-up is always a great option as they help replace fatty acids and break down the alcohol in your liver. Eggs are particular savours here as they contain something called taurine, which has been shown to even reverse liver damage caused by alcohol!
If you're feeling a bit too delicate to face a fry-up, a safer option to get you going would be some mild flavoured carbohydrates such as wholemeal toast or crackers, which should give you a boost without upsetting your fragile stomach too much.
Drinking too much can also deplete your potassium levels so eating some bananas in the morning will also help (a swift banana before bed is also a great shout if you can remember!).
Drink to restore the balance
No, not more booze.
A glass of fruit juice helps by giving you a sugary kick and energy, as well as getting rid of the toxins in your body whilst replacing some of the essential minerals you've lost.
Milk will work well to replace the calcium you've lost, while ginger tea (or even just ginger on its own) can help with nausea.
Another option is drinking milk thistle tea, which is said to be a hangover godsend. Boiled water with honey and lemon will also help boost your blood sugar and vitamins.
When you're in the throws of a hangover it's easy to let the ground swallow you up in a pit of self loathing and despair. Unsurprisingly – that doesn't help.
Distract yourself with something enjoyable but not too taxing, like these lazy students or just looking at pictures of cats.
Don't drink coffee
Coffee may be the obvious port-of-call for most sufferers, but it's actually a diuretic and causes your body to lose water quickly. Coffee is also the number one cause of those horrible sweats and heart palpitations we're all prone to when we've had a night on the sauce – our advice is avoid coffee like the plague!
Opt instead for some water (we know, you're sick of hearing that one), fruit juice, or anything we mentioned before instead and you'll feel better in the long run, we promise.
Don't start drinking again
Hair of the dog? Forget it! Drinking more might ease your pain for a few hours but it will only make the crash even worse when you get to that point.
It's also a slippery slope to constant drinking, which is by no means healthy or desirable.
Have a long shower
Freshening up can do wonders for your mind. If you're not already late for lectures then jump right on in there with your rubber duck.
Be careful not to make it too hot, otherwise the heat can go to your head and make you nauseous. A great option is to shower with the window open for a bit of fresh air too – bliss!
Sleep it off
One of the other side effects of drinking is the disruption of your sleep cycle, which is one of the reasons you still feel a bit pants even if you did get a decent amount of sleep.
Combat this the only way you know how – just sleep some more! If you're not going to be productive anyway, you might as well just admit defeat, and instead focus on getting the sleep you need to get back on form.
The whole idea that you can "sweat it out" is a little questionable but that doesn't mean that exercise won't help you now.
Some gentle exercise, with lots and lots of water so you don't get dehydrated, can boost your endorphin levels and give you a mental kick.
This said, we appreciate this sounds like a lot of effort. Check out our tips on how to exercise without breaking the bank.
Sunglasses it up
Along with all the other joys of a hangover, you might also find yourself prey to hypersensitivity with things like bright lights or loud music.
Make sure everyone turns it down a notch for the day (or grab some earplugs if you're worried about this making you unpopular) and if you need to leave the house, put on your best sunnies. No one will even question it (unless it's raining).
If you're presently hungover reading this, we're impressed you made it to the end! Hope we've given you a few pointers on how best to survive the worst of hangover hell.
In the mood for more self-improvement? See our 57 tricks to get better at life page.
If there's anything you think we've missed out then give us a shout below!