Our Best Tips For Fighting Through A Workday Hangover (Because We've Been There)

You might have tried everything in the book to avoid a hangover after a wild night out, but even the best of efforts sometimes isn't enough. Depending on how much alcohol you had, you could feel miserable come morning with a full day ahead of you.


Although some researchers have tried to nail down the exact amount of alcohol that causes a hangover, there is no definitive number of drinks. However, according to some studies, a blood alcohol content of 0.1 appears to be consistent with those who experience hangovers after a night of drinking. Men who consume up to seven cocktails in a 4- to 6-hour period are likely to feel the effects the next day, while the same goes for women after up to five cocktails.

The unpleasant feelings of a hangover often climax 12 hours after your last drink. Unfortunately, you may not have enough time to recover if you need to be up early the next day for work. That being said, there are some tips you can try to dampen your workday hangover. Hydration, exercise, and vitamins are all part of the equation. Here's how to get started.


Say no to the 'hair of the dog'

If you've seen your friends turn to the "hair of the dog" or even tried it yourself, you may have questioned whether consuming more alcohol was wise after a night of heavy drinking. Your hunch was correct. Many people believe that having another alcoholic beverage to combat hangover symptoms helps the body recover, but the opposite is true. By ingesting more alcohol, you are adding toxins to the ones already in your body, thus prolonging your recovery time. "The hair of the dog just perpetuates a cycle," researcher Dr. Robert Swift told Harvard Health Publishing. "It doesn't allow you to recover."


A 2005 study published in the British Medical Journal evaluated treatments (including the "hair of the dog") for hangovers and could not find any benefits. Before sneaking a Bloody Mary in ahead of your morning meeting, consider the consequences — especially the potential to prolong your overall recovery time. Instead, shift your focus to rehydrating with alcohol-free fluids, such as water or tea. "More toxins is not the solution for excess toxins," emergency medicine physician Dr. Thomas Waters told the Cleveland Clinic. "It really doesn't make much sense."

Have breakfast, but steer clear of greasy food

After a night of heavy drinking, you might immediately want to turn to a cheeseburger and fries. Greasy food has become synonymous with hangover recovery, but it's not always the best choice. That said, there is some science behind why you may crave this type of food after consuming too much alcohol. As it turns out, the brain is provoked to release a neurochemical called galanin once alcohol enters the body. Galanin is associated with making us crave fatty, greasy food. If you find yourself getting ready for work and rummaging through your refrigerator for leftover pizza, it's completely explainable. However, it doesn't mean that it's the ideal breakfast for powering through your hangover at the office.


Because alcohol is known for thwarting blood sugar levels, you could benefit more from consuming a meal high in carbohydrates and sugar. The carbs can help you increase your energy level, while the sugar can restore the balance within your body. If you don't feel that you can stomach a full meal, Harvard Medical School recommends starting slowly with toast and juice. Next time you go out, consider having a bite to eat before drinking to reduce your hangover odds.

Get in a workout (if you feel safe enough to exercise)

The last thing you might want to do before work when you have a hangover is exercise. However, getting your blood flowing may be just what you need to head into the office with a smile on your face. By working out, you can increase the amount of oxygen streaming toward your brain and improve your mood. Furthermore, you can potentially clear some of the toxins out of your body.


However, it's important to proceed with caution. "Exercising during a hangover should be limited to low- to moderate-intensity exercise, since the hangover will negatively impact cognitive ability, motor control, and coordination," internist Dr. Deep Bhatt explained to Everyday Health.

Don't forget about the importance of rehydration during your hangover recovery if you intend to work out, too. Drinking a beverage with electrolytes may help you rehydrate more quickly. Once you feel stable and safe enough to start moving, you can begin your workout. If symptoms such as dizziness, headache, or high heart rate arise during exercise, stop the workout immediately.

Rehydrate with water, sports drinks, and tea

Anyone who has ever had a little too much to drink knows that dehydration can be a real problem, even before the next day. Ideally, you shouldn't wait until you're a few drinks in to begin hydrating because there isn't a bad time to start drinking water. If your day job is calling and your hangover is raging, keep your focus on rehydration.


Even if you're feeling nauseous, try sipping on a glass of water as you get ready for the day — but don't overdo it. According to the Cleveland Clinic, consuming too much water in a short amount of time can result in swelling of the brain, which can be potentially deadly. Take it slow and drink as much as you can throughout your hangover recovery.

Other beverages you may want to consider include sports drinks and tea. Sports drinks often have electrolytes and beneficial vitamins. The stimulative properties of tea can help reduce grogginess, and choosing one with ginger can potentially relieve nausea. "Ginger can aid digestion and in this way can ease stomach upset," nutritionist Kelly Kennedy told Everyday Health.


Proceed with caution when taking painkillers

If you wake up with a hangover, your first instinct might be to reach for your bottle of painkillers. However, that can be more dangerous than you think. For example, some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can bother your stomach if it's already irritated by excessive alcohol consumption. Additionally, acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol) can be damaging to your liver, which may be under stress as a result of the alcohol. If you feel that you can't get through the workday without something for your pain, stick to aspirin or ibuprofen, but be aware of the potential for stomach irritation.


If your doctor has previously suggested avoiding NSAIDs, Everyday Health notes that you should not take them — even during your worst hangover before a long workday. Always contact your doctor before taking any medication you are unfamiliar with, especially if you are concerned about how it may interact with an underlying condition or other medicines. They can provide you with insight into how to safely handle your symptoms in the future.

Support your body with vitamins

Depending on your hangover symptoms, you might be able to limit their severity and get through a day at the office with some vitamins. A 2004 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition specifically looked at how alcohol impacted vitamin B12 levels in the body. B vitamins are notably associated with energy levels, immune system function, nervous system function, and brain function, per Everyday Health. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that alcohol consumption could decrease levels of vitamin B12.


If your energy level tanks after a night of drinking, you can boost your body's level of B vitamins by chowing down on foods such as eggs, yogurt, avocados, and oats. To give your immune system some support, consider focusing on vitamin C-rich foods, too. Oranges, strawberries, and tomato juice are all packed with the vitamin.

While one wild night out on the town can be fun, making a habit can take its toll on your overall health. Being mindful of your alcohol intake can help you avoid hangovers altogether.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).