11 Things That Science Says Will Help Cure Your Hangover

There's actual scientific evidence behind these hangover helpers, so listen up.

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1. Drink water before you go to bed.

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The NHS advises: "Drink a pint or so of water before you go to sleep. Keep a glass of water by the bed to sip if you wake up during the night."

If you forget to do that, hope is not lost. Just drink some in the morning, and plenty throughout the day.

"One of the underlying mechanisms that makes you feel hungover is dehydration," says Dr Richard Stephens, senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University. Tackling that won't cure your hangover completely, but it will help.

2. Take paracetamol when you wake up.

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The second way a hangover makes you feel like you're dying is your body producing an immune-response mediated by something called cytokines. Cytokines are a broad category of molecules that are important in your immune system.

"When you have a hangover and you sort of feel all puffy, that's one of the mechanisms," says Stephens. "So if you take something that counteracts an inflammatory response, like paracetamol, that would relieve those symptoms."

Headaches can be partly caused by dehydration, but the immune response also contributes, so anti-inflammatory drugs will help with that.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen are good choices. But the NHS advises that you avoid aspirin if you can as it "may further irritate the stomach and increase nausea and sickness".

3. If sleeping is an option, and you want to, do that.

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However much you may feel like doing it, there's no evidence that just sitting in a darkened room all day is going to help your hangover. (There is, however, one study of male Swiss mice in which scientists gave them alcohol and found "constant darkness resulted to be in a faster recovery of both motor and anxiety impairments", but it's a bit of a stretch to apply that to humans.)

But there's no harm in getting some rest if you're not feeling so great. "If you feel ill, you'd probably be more comfortable if you stayed in bed," says Stephens.

4. Do something to distract yourself from the misery of your hangover.

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Lots of people swear by going for a run, but there's no evidence that it'll help your hangover symptoms.

"Exercise might just distract you cognitively from thinking about your hangover and its symptoms," says Stephens. "It might provide relief through distraction, but then anything you could do to distract yourself helps."

So if you're not the running type, try watching a film or playing a video game – anything that will take your mind off your achy head.

5. Drink a sports drink.

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Glucose depletion is the third prong with which a hangover attacks you. "Anything you can do that will increase your available glucose will relieve some of the symptoms," says Stephens.

7. Eat a full English breakfast.

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Carbohydrates are another option for tackling glucose-depletion. All the carbs in a full English, or even just beans on toast, should help you feel less trembly and more like a human being again.

8. If you can't handle that, just drink some broth.

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According to the NHS: "Bouillon soup, a thin vegetable-based broth, is a good source of vitamins and minerals, which can top-up depleted resources. Its main advantage is that it's easy for a fragile stomach to digest."

10. If all else fails, just start drinking again.

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Nobody recommends hair of the dog when you're hungover; the NHS calls it a "risky habit".

Having said that, there is a scientific basis to why it will make you feel better, at least in the short term. Alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, but they also contain small amounts of methanol and substances called congeners. When your body breaks down methanol it produces formaldehyde and formic acid – which essentially poison you, and will make your hangover worse.

When you drink your body breaks down ethanol first before moving on to methanol. So, if you start drinking again, your body starts working on the ethanol again and stops breaking down methanol into these poisons.

But it's still a bad idea, and only puts off the inevitable. "I wouldn't recommend it, because that's the first step on the road to alcoholism," says Dr Stephens.

11. Or... just don't drink that much in the first place.

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I'm sorry, but you know it's true. The NHS is pretty blunt about it, and recommends men stick to no more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day, and women to 2-3 units.

Another option to keep in mind is, next time you're drinking, make sure you eat a meal with plenty of fats and carbohydrates before you start. The fats will slow the absorption of alcohol, and the carbs will stop your blood sugar getting too low.