When you drink too much alcohol, you can be sure you’ll get a hangover the following day. That means a day in bed feeling awful and wondering why you took all those beers and whether the shots were even necessary? At such times we often search our brains for a hangover cure that will end our suffering.
Many of us turn to a greasy breakfast while others take the “hair of the dog.” Unfortunately, while a good breakfast may refuel your body and give you the energy to move around as you recover, it is unlikely to get rid of the toxic effects of too much alcohol in your system.
And when you choose to take a glass or two of what you had the previous night, it gets you right back where you don’t want to be – drinking again!
However, there are some useful hangover remedies, and taking coffee is one of them. In this article, we’ll discuss if coffee is really an excellent cure for a hangover and if it is- why? Then you can decide if you’ll use it the next time you overdrink or find other solutions.
Or maybe you’ll just stop drinking alcohol and get rid of the issue of hangovers altogether. It’s your choice!
Let’s start by looking at what a hangover is and its causes.
What is a hangover?
A hangover is that awful feeling you get after taking too much alcohol. It usually manifests hours or a day after binge drinking.
Alcohol is treated differently from food by the digestive system, and it has to work very hard to eliminate it. While it is in the digestive tract, it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach lining.
The more alcohol you take, the higher your blood alcohol level. If it goes beyond 0.1%, you can expect to suffer from hangover symptoms. The higher your blood alcohol level, the worse you can expect your hangover symptoms to get.
Although you can reduce the time it takes for alcohol to get into your bloodstream by eating and drinking water as you consume it, the best way to avoid dangerously high blood alcohol levels and a bad hangover is by reducing your drinking.
Causes of a hangover
The second best way to avoid a hangover is to understand it’s causes and avoid them. Here are a few.
- What you drink
Dark drinks are more likely to cause hangovers than clear ones because they contain congeners, which increase dehydration. That’s why whisky, red wine, and brandy may give you a worse hangover than beers, gin, or vodka. Therefore, picking light-colored drinks can help you avoid a severe hangover.
Something else that may worsen hangover symptoms is what you mixed your drinks with. If you take them with caffeinated or sugary beverages, their stimulating and addictive properties will make you drink excessively.
After all, you are more likely to keep seeping a sweet cocktail than a bitter spirit or bland-tasting beer. However, the next day, after your enjoyment, you will likely suffer a bad hangover worsened by inflammation due to the caffeine and sugar in your mixers.
It’s better to drink alcohol in its pure form and only use water or ice cubes to dilute it or enhance its taste when necessary.
- Chemicals in your alcohol
Chemicals in the alcohol you take, such as sulfites and acetaldehydes, and anything processed from them like formaldehyde can trigger a hangover.
Acetaldehyde is metabolized from Ethanol which is essentially alcohol. It is degraded by enzymes in the body, such as Aldehyde dehydrogenase, and eventually finds its way out of the body as Acetate.
Acetate is responsible for those pounding headaches you experience when suffering from a hangover. While Methanol, another chemical found in alcohol, can also contribute to a horrible hangover if metabolized into formaldehyde.
The rate at which your body processes alcohol determines how fast chemicals such as acetaldehydes and Methanol leave your body.
If you drink too much at a go, you can be sure your body will fail to get rid of most of the toxins in alcohol, leading to a severe hangover.
- Hormonal interference
Hormonal interferences from overindulging in alcohol can affect your blood pressure and blood sugar levels negatively.
An example of hormones affected by taking too much alcohol is glucose (which is responsible for lowering blood sugar) and glucagon, which raises it.
Excess amounts of alcohol keep these hormones from regulating blood sugar levels as required resulting in hangover symptoms such as dizziness .
Another hormone that triggers hangovers by causing dehydration is Vasopressin (an antidiuretic hormone).
The dehydration you expirience after a night of overindulging in alcohol characterised by extreme thirst or bloating occurs due to low levels of Vasopressin in your system, which leads to excessive water loss through sweating and urination.
If you want to avoid hormonal interference from alcohol, your best cause of action is to drink in moderation.
- Diuretic properties of alcohol
Alcohol also forces fluids out of your body through your renal system, due to its diuretic properties. It takes water out of your system faster than other liquids, which is why dehydration is a common side effect of drinking too much.
It’s also why you should drink lots of water before, during, and after taking too much alcohol. Otherwise, you’ll suffer the effects of dehydration, such as an incessant headache.
- Alcohol and exhaustion
Since it causes frequent urination, alcohol may prevent you from continuously sleeping at night, leading to exhaustion.
Another possible reason for exhaustion after a night of binge drinking may be because it disrupts your circadian rhythm and REM sleep as it struggles to metabolize the alcohol.
You know that feeling where you just can’t remember what happened after a night of heavy drinking? That could be due to the interruption of your REM sleep.
REM sleep is vital as it improves concentration and memory as well as your mood. If it’s interrupted, you will likely suffer bouts of forgetfulness, sluggishness, and low concentration.
Overindulging in alcohol also interferes with your circadian rhythm that is controlled by serotonin( a neurotransmitter that determines when you go to sleep and wake up).
Taking too much alcohol lowers the levels of serotonin in your body and affects your mood by making you feel exhausted and sad.
Once you realize alcohol is a depressant, avoid its negative effects on your sleep pattern and energy levels by choosing better ways of boosting your energy levels and moods such as exercising regulary, especially after a night of overdrinking.
Effects of a hangover
Maybe you always feel some discomfort after drinking but are unaware of just what a hangover feels like. Well, one of the symptoms of a hangover is sensitivity to light ( you know, that feeling you get when you open the curtains and can’t stand the bright light).
Another common symptom is headaches and increased thirst, which probably occurs due to dehydration. You may also feel weak and exhausted from the effects of alcohol.
Stomach pain and nausea, which sometimes leads to vomiting, also happens to many people due to the irritating effects of alcohol on the stomach lining.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, you may feel it increase after overdrinking too. You can also expect muscle aches, sweating, and dizziness from the effects of alcohol still lingering in your system after a night of binge drinking.
However, hangovers affect people differently. While some can drink all night and feel great in the morning, others suffer from a sickening hangover that keeps them in bed a whole day. The symptoms of a hangover also exhibit themselves differently depending on one’s rate of metabolizing alcohol.
The speed at which alcohol is processed in your body varies depending on gender, age, and weight, among other factors. Ideally, your body should break down alcohol at a rate of one unit or 0.015 percent of alcohol per hour.
When you take several drinks in a row, your body can’t keep up with you. It will have a hard time metabolizing the alcohol leading to a buildup of toxic chemicals in your system. These chemicals are responsible for the hangover you get after a drinking spree.
Why do people use coffee to get over a hangover?
Once you learn the causes of a hangover, you may use that information to avoid suffering from one.
But as we all know, it’s easy to over-indulge in alcohol – especially when celebrating with your loved ones. That’s when we look for a good hangover cure, such as coffee.
Although drinking coffee won’t completely get rid of a hangover, it can help. In fact, many people choose to take it along with Aspirin the morning after a night of overdrinking.
According to research, taking a cup of coffee containing 75 mg of caffeine can boost your alertness, while drinking at least 160 mg can speed up your reasoning.
Therefore, if you are suffering from fatigue due to a hangover, just a cup of coffee will get you going.
And when you’re feeling groggy or fatigued after a night of drinking, coffee’s Adenosine and Adrenaline properties can raise your Dopamine levels, thereby boosting your energy and mood.
However, even if coffee makes you feel alert, you’ll still feel other effects of a hangover as the alcohol slowly metabolizes out of your system. It may also worsen dehydration due to its diuretic properties.
Also, if your stomach is feeling queasy, coffee may make it worse by triggering diarrhea due to its acidic properties.
Learning the right way to use coffee as a hangover cure is the best way to avoid its negative effects.
How to use coffee as a hangover cure
In spite of some of the negative effects associated with taking coffee, such as jitters, people often take it to deal with a hangover.
You would think its diuretic effects would worsen the symptoms of dehydration, but they don’t. It only has a slight diuretic effect and, if taken in moderation, can help you beat a hangover.
First off, if you always take coffee when you wake up, avoiding it just because you have a hangover may give you caffeine withdrawal symptoms which may worsen it.
On the other hand, taking too much coffee could worsen your hangover as the caffeine in it narrows vessels and increases your blood pressure or dehydrates you. Therefore it’s best to take coffee in moderation.
However, don’t forget that coffee affects people differently. While some need only a little to benefit from its properties, others have to take a lot for the same effects. Therefore, it’s hard to say just how much coffee you should take to deal with your hangover.
Usually, most people are safe when they take between 50 and 150 gms of caffeine. Anything above that will increase your blood sugar and trigger inflammation, thereby interfering with your efforts to recover from the effects of too much alcohol.
Taking a little coffee with OTC anti-inflammatories such as Aspirin or painkillers like Ibuprofen can also help you deal with the acetate effects of a hangover.
If you want coffee to help you cure a hangover, taking it along with a lot of water is best. Start by drinking a full glass of water immediately you wake up and follow it up with a small amount of black coffee.
Repeat this routine at least two times, and you will benefit from the stimulating properties of caffeine while staying hydrated as you recover from your night of drinking.
How to avoid a hangover?
Well, whether we like it or not, the best way to avoid a hangover is not taking alcohol in the first place. If you must take alcohol, try to avoid a hangover by taking the following precautions.
- Space your drinks by only taking one unit an hour.
- Drink lots of water between drinks to stay hydrated and detoxify your system
- Eat food before you drink to line your stomach against the irritating effects of alcohol
- Have enough rest to give your body time to metabolize the alcohol
- Try home remedies such as herbal teas and electrolyte drinks that may reduce the effects of a hangover even if they don’t eliminate them entirely.
So what can you take away from this article? Coffee can help you get over a hangover, but there are other ways to deal with the effects of too much alcohol that we have shared above. Therefore, feel free to find a solution that works for you.
If you’re looking for a good hangover cure, always search for something that will lower your blood alcohol levels and help reverse the cognitive impairment effects of alcohol, such as loss of memory and concentration. Some good examples are drinking lots of electrolyte-rich fluids and exercising.
After all, is said and done, the next time you get a hangover, just remember your body only needs time to metabolize all the alcohol out of your system and some water to get you rehydrated. Then use any remedies we’ve discussed in our post, including coffee, to get over your hangover.