Life comes at you fast. One minute you've agreed to have a "beer or two" at a local bar with a friend you haven't seen in years, the next minute you're 7 IPAs and 5 fireball shots deep swaying dangerously at the urinal before you walk out with your fly unzipped and shirt tucked into your belt. That's a recipe for a lonely night and a hungover morning.
If you're anything like me, that hangover usually involves nausea, heart palpitations, sensitivity to light, and enough anxiety to make a rhino question its existence and place in the universe. But if you're really like me, you wonder why this happens and how to, for the love of god, make this stop.
You experience a hangover for multiple reasons. First of all, you drank too much. But this isn't one of those super judgy blogs that expects you to be able to control yourself around alcohol, I'm not a hypocrite.
There are three main compounds that'll make your morning suck: acetaldehyde, glutamine, and vasopressin.
Acetaldehyde is the toxin that's formed after ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol, is broken down. It's the cause of almost all your hangover symptoms and is only eradicated after your liver has the time to process all of it. Which means if you're throwing down a dozen or more drinks a night, you're not gonna feel okay for a very long time.
Glutamine is a natural stimulant that your body produces, except when alcohol, a depressant, is introduced to your system. Glutamine production halts until you stop drinking, so if you're drinking at night this occurs just before bedtime. Your body then overcompensates (much like you will the next morning in your apology texts to the 4 different girls you sent "u up??" to) and performs a glutamine rebound, making it so you're unable to achieve a deep enough sleep to feel rested the next day.
Vasopressin is a hormone that tells your kidneys to reabsorb water in order to rehydrate your body. However, alcohol suppresses vasopressin production. This causes water in your kidneys to bypass reabsorption and head straight to your bladder, which can now be your excuse for why you peed the bed at age 25. It's okay, we've all been there. But in the morning while you're washing your urine-soaked sheets for the third time this summer, you're gonna feel pretty dehydrated.
Now that you're up to speed on how your body reacts to the flavored poison you drank in order to gain enough courage to talk to girls (you still didn't do it, we know) let's talk about hangover cures. Spoiler alert: there are none. Believe it or not, there's no pill or powder that'll make 12 Jameson shots feel better the next morning. Even if you took a shot of pickle juice after, which is disgusting and a goddamn abomination. However, there are things you can do before and after drinking that can make your hangover experience a little less terrible.
1) Eat before you drink. The food in your stomach will slow the body's absorption of alcohol and also prevent your stomach from getting irritated, because shockingly Milwaukee's Best Ice isn't so great for the stomach lining.
2) Try to drink mostly beer or clear/lighter colored liquor. Dark liquors (including red wine) have a greater amount of the chemical byproducts of fermentation called cogeners, which make your hangover worse due to reasons you don't care enough about for me to explain.
3) Stop drinking at least an hour or two before you fall asleep. If you're lucky enough to bring a girl home that night, that should add a solid 3-5 minutes to your timetable. Maybe try playing Monopoly or Risk or some other marathon-length board game before you guys hit the sheets. It'll get your body past that glutamine rebound and have the added benefit of showing her you're good at owning property or running a military dictatorship, which I hear girls are into.
But honestly, that's about it. Some research shows supplements like dihydromyricetin and prickly pear cactus extract reduce the severity of hangovers. But those cost money, and if you spend all your money on hangover supplements how are you going to have enough money to get hungover in the first place? Classic catch 22.