Does sleep help to reduce a hangover?
While sleep itself isn’t a hangover cure, Sarah says getting more of it can change subjective feelings of hangover.
“One of the factors that can contribute to the feeling of being hung over is a lack of sleep,” she says. "This is because if you drink excessively it can change your sleeping patterns. Alcohol can interfere with your sleep stages, which means people will often fall into a deep sleep really quickly, but then they’ll wake up during the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep. Given fatigue is a big component of feeling hung over, getting fewer hours of good sleep can increase or exacerbate the hangover state.”
Why are hangovers worse as you get older?
If you’re reading this while you sit on the couch, you might want to put down the chocolate bar or bowl of ice-cream. Scientists believe one of the reasons hangovers feel more severe as you get older is because people’s body composition changes as they age, which is a polite way of saying that as our waistlines increase, so too does the severity of our hangovers.
“People often start getting a higher proportion of body fat as they age,” Sarah says. “Fatty tissue has a lower water content than muscle and, given alcohol is water-soluble, the higher body fat a person has, the less alcohol can be absorbed.”
This leads to a quicker increase in BAC and therefore intoxication, ergo, could explain why people suffer from more extreme hangovers as they get older.
“There are a couple of studies looking at the [physiological markers] of hangovers, but they don’t show any convincing differences between hangovers at 18 or 48,” Sarah says. “But anecdotally, people experience a worse hangover as they get older."
Other reasons for this might be that people’s drinking behaviours change as they get older, they have different responsibilities or other lifestyle factors as they age – such as increased stress or children waking them up early in the morning (no sleep ins here) – which make the hangover feel worse.
Is there such as think as a hangover cure?
When it comes to hangover cures, Sarah says the promises of repercussion-free boozing are just empty marketing hype.
Most of the over-the-counter hangover helpers focus on treating different physiological aspects of a hangover. She says some of the common areas to focus on are alcohol metabolism and vitamin replacement.
“There are so many supposed hangover cures available,” she says. “The idea is that if you can improve the metabolism of alcohol, the hangover will be less severe, or that by replacing lost vitamins, you will feel better. But, at the moment, we don’t have any empirical evidence that they work. The only thing that is proven to reduce your hangover is drinking less alcohol.”
Why do some people throw up?
There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who spew after drinking too much alcohol, and those who don’t. “Some people are spewers and some aren’t,” Sarah says. “Alcohol is toxic and it can affect the lining of the stomach so, during intoxication, if you have a more sensitive stomach, you might be more likely to be sick.”