My hangover days are well behind me, but I still have sympathy for those who revel into the early hours of the New Year, aided by fortifying servings of distilled spirits. There’s always a price to be paid the next day. This post comes in the nick of time: before tonight you should take heed of the following advice about hangovers. It may help you to enjoy New Year’s Day in a happier state. The title for this post comes from P.G. Wodehouse, who documents the six original varieties of hangover in his book, The Mating Season. The Broken Compass hangover, according to Wodehouse, “attacks the senses of balance and direction and its symptoms include stumbling, colliding with objects which under normal circumstances one would find it easy to avoid, falling, tripping, disorientation, dizziness, aimless wandering, and the sudden and crippling inability to find one’s way home.”
The other five hangovers, in case you’re wondering: the Sewing Machine, the Comet, the Atomic, the Cement Mixer, and the Gremlin Boogie. They’re fairly self-explanatory.
The many and storied “hair of the dog” hangover cures are amusing, but the truth is that drinking more will only prolong the dehydration (and horrible feeling) caused by earlier drinking, so no “Tabasco-and-raw-egg” recipes from me. Here are a few tricks, based on science rather than folklore, which can make the morning after a bit more tolerable.
1) Before going out, drink whole milk to line the stomach. Eat a big meal with lots of carbs which will help to absorb the alcohol.
2) Try to drink a large glass of water with each alcoholic drink, to stave off the dehydration that comes with drinking.
3) If it’s too late for either of the previous tips, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Sports drinks and coconut water will help rebalance electrolytes.
4) An infusion of sugar will help with the blood sugar dip that comes with too much booze. That’s why drinking a real Coke can be beneficial.
5) Stick to light-colored alcohol. Dark-colored drinks like red wine and rum have more impurities in them, and the liver has to work harder to rid the body of the additional toxins found in dark-colored liquors.
6) Eat. Food will help to replace the sugars you’re missing. Lots of people swear that spicy foods are the best things to eat, but the science is unclear. It may be that spicy foods distract your body from its hangover symptoms, forcing it to deal with the infusion of spices, which can be toxins themselves, thus prolonging the hangover symptoms.
7) Exercise. I’ve heard this is done. Can’t imagine it.
8) Sleep – when all else fails, sleep until your body can begin to restore itself.
9) Supplements – Vitamins C and B-complex are recommended to regain one’s equilibrium. Milk thistle is an herbal remedy that has been around for several thousand years. Studies suggest that it protects the liver from certain toxins. If you’re feeling lousy enough, it couldn’t hurt, right?