Even if you hung up your toga years ago, you can still feel like you woke up
at Animal House after a night of drinking. "Alcohol impairs judgment -- add a
crowd of friends who are also impaired, and your drinking behavior can be
fueled by those around you," says John Brick, PhD, executive director of
Intoxikon International, a Yardley, Pa. firm that consults on alcohol
It's not just friends who can encourage a hangover. Glasses the size of fish
bowls, generous refills, and libations that taste like desserts can all put you
on a path to pain the next morning, even if
you had the best of intentions.
When heart specialist John M. Kennedy, M.D., of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, stands at the scrub sink before an operation, he breathes deeply with seven-count exhales, visualizing how he wants the procedure to go. "Athletes use these techniques to perform under pressure, but we can all call on them in our regular lives," Dr. Kennedy says. It starts with knowing what kind of breathing works best for the challenge you're facing. Here's what the latest research shows.
Whether you're heading to happy
hour, a wedding, vacation, or a party, here are expert tips on how to sip your
spirits without them haunting you the next morning. "Hangovers are not a sign
of health," Brick says.
With that in mind, none of the experts recommend overindulging, even if it
is a special occasion. And with the decision to drink comes the responsibility
to find a designated driver -- or a taxi --to stay safe. But when drinking is
in your plans, you may want to keep these tips in mind.
1. Drink More ... Water, That Is
For every alcoholic drink you have, your
body can expel up to four times as much liquid. The diuretic effect of alcohol
and the dehydration it causes contribute
to the discomfort of a hangover, explains Jim Woodford, PhD, a forensic chemist
specializing in drugs and alcohol.
That's why Anthony Giglio, a wine expert in New York City and author of
Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide, matches each alcoholic drink with
a glass of water. "I drink at least 8 ounces [of water] with no ice to make
sure I pace myself and don't overindulge," he tells WebMD.
Both Brick and Woodford agree that staying hydrated can reduce the negative
effects of alcohol. "Alcohol dehydrates," Woodford says. "When you wake up with
a headache and a generally icky
feeling, dehydration is the cause." So replacing lost fluids with water combats
dehydration and keeps you from drinking more alcohol in the meantime.
Granted, this advice isn't Nobel Prize research, but keeping a pitcher of
water at your table or a glass of water next to your wine may make you feel
like a genius in the morning.
2. Hit the Rocks
Giglio has another hangover-fighting strategy: "I order drinks that are
on-the-rocks," he explains. "As the ice melts, the drink is diluted and I sip
it slowly." Beverages like Manhattans and cosmopolitans are strained, so they
stay just as potent as time goes
Taking your time with a drink also pays off. Your body absorbs alcohol
quicker than you metabolize it. The faster you drink, the more time the
toxins in booze spend in your body affecting your brain and other tissues --
and the more pain you feel in the morning, Brick says.
Metabolism depends on several
factors (gender, weight, age, health), but in
general, most people can metabolize roughly one drink an hour. So diluting it
with ice or water will increase your time between refills and decrease your
odds of a hangover.