All of us, at some point, will have limped our way through a hangover; not the ‘slightly dull headache’ hangover but the real five-star pulsating pain and grogginess that seems to take days and days to truly get over. And, as many people who have spent any time in college and university halls will know, those degree years are the ones in which many of us ‘learnt’ to drink. With this, we may also have ‘learnt’ what cures our hangovers. From a full breakfast in the greasy spoon, to simply hiding under the duvet from all sources of light and sipping on a water every 7 minutes, the hangover cures and theories are as many and varied as the drinks that caused them. However, there are some aspects of drinking alcohol that we need to be reminded about from time to time, and although the only ‘cure’ for a hangover is not to drink at all, this seems too big a social sacrifice to make for students up and down the land. There is an antidote, however, and it is more common than you think. Water. What IS a hangover? In order to understand why some cures work and some don’t, every student needs to first have a basic understanding of what a hangover is. Picture the scene: your body is a flask of fluid. As you hit the pubs and clubs with friends, your hydration levels naturally start to drop. With every alcoholic drink that passes your lips, this loss of hydration gathers pace as alcohol acts as a diuretic. Your body will attempt to process the toxins and other ‘bits and bobs’ out of your system quickly, effectively meaning it will use more and more fluid to do so. After a great night out, you stumble back to your halls of residence and, exhausted from drinking, shouting, dancing and singing at the top of your voice, you fall into bed. Within seconds, mouth wide open, you are asleep… … and you sleep for hours. The whole time, your body is processing fluid and you become more and more dehydrated. For some people with VERY bad hangovers, vomiting is not uncommon and losing fluid this way leads to an even greater level of dehydration. Thus, in a nutshell, a hangover is a form of dehydration.
Prevention and cure: water
So, now that you know that a hangover is a form of abject dehydration, you can do something about it - and the antidote is water (not hair of the dog, the continuation of drinking that some people advocate…!) Water is great for ‘curing’ a hangover (coupled with some painkillers, possibly) but it can also help to prevent a hangover, or certainly help to reduce its effects in the morning. And this is what can work but like all activities, always make sure you are safe – drinking too much water, to excessive levels, is just as dangerous as severe or chronic dehydration.
- BEFORE you hit the town, make sure you are properly hydrated. This does not mean drinking litres and litres of water in a short time, but rather making sure that you keep your hydration levels topped up throughout the day.
- PACE your drinking and if you are not too fogged by drink, try to remember to have a non-alcoholic drink every now and then during your night out. This will give your body a helping hand the next day as it will ease pressure on the kidneys as well as the brain cells, and stop you becoming so dehydrated.
- AFTER arriving back at your student digs, it helps to drink a glass of water before you hit the sack. Being prepared and having some water by the side of the bed is a great way of reminding you to get rehydrated after lighting up that dance floor.
- THE MORNING AFTER is when the dehydration effects can really hit, with the throbbing head, the carpet mouth and that sick feeling. Make sure you have a decent glass of water to hand and drink it…and keep on steadily topping up your hydration level throughout the day…
Water is beneficial to our bodies in so many ways; from plump skin to improved concentration, water really does have it all. So for any student looking to have a good time, make water your friend and include it in your night out – before, during and after!