Survival Tips For The Morning After the Night Before
There is only one guaranteed way to avoid a hangover: Don’t drink to excess. Of course, that may be easier said than done on New Year’s Eve, so prepare to ring in the New Year without suffering (too many of) the consequences by following the tips below.
Before You Party
- Nosh a little. Alcohol is absorbed more quickly if your stomach is empty, so have some food before you imbibe—preferably healthy foods such as yogurt, salmon, chicken, eggs, quinoa, pasta, avocado, etc.
- Pace yourself. New Year’s Eve is a marathon, not a sprint, so limit yourself to just one drink (or less) an hour.
- Spritz it. To lighten the alcohol content of your glass of cheer choose a wine spritzer—half wine, half club soda or seltzer.
- Stay away from the dark side. Darker colored drinks often contain a high volume of congeners—a byproduct of fermentation—and are more likely to produce a hangover. High congener beverages include brandy, bourbon, whiskey, dark beers, and red wine. Drinks with a lower congener content include light-colored beers, white and rosé wines, gin, and vodka.
- Hydrate and alternate. For every alcoholic drink you toss back, have a full glass of water; it will help you consume less alcohol and keep you hydrated.
- Know your limits. Decide ahead of time how many drinks you'll have—and stick to it; if you feel pressured to have a glass in your hand all night, go for a soft drink, plain seltzer or club soda.
- Don’t light up. Nicotine combined with alcohol increases the likelihood of next-day misery.
The Morning After
If you ignored all that good advice and overindulged anyway, you’ll have to face the sad truth: Time is the only sure cure for a hangover. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help yourself feel a little better:
- Sleep it off. Some researchers believe that some hangover symptoms are partially due to the poor quality of sleep that typically follows a night of drinking; take a nap, and wake up feeling better.
- Hydrate some more. Sip water, fruit juice, seltzer, or a sports drink to prevent dehydration; ginger tea can ease nausea.
- Leave the hair of the dog on the dog. Resist any temptation to treat your hangover with more alcohol—it’ll only make you feel worse.
- Nosh lightly. Bland foods, such as toast and crackers, may boost your blood sugar and settle your stomach.
- Skip the burger and fries. While some swear that greasy foods will “soak up the alcohol,” you’re more like to have to use a mop to soak up the consequences of eating them.
- Go for the “Jewish penicillin.” Plain chicken soup will help you replace lost fluids, as well as replenish potassium and salt.
- Walk it off. As the day after progresses, a leisurely walk in the fresh air could make you feel better.
- Pop a pain reliever. A standard dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever could ease your headache.
Heavy Drinking Can Be Deadly
While the majority of people who overindulge on New Year’s Eve simply wake up with a hangover the next morning (and fuzzy memories of what they did the night before), heavy drinking can lead to a life-threatening situation. Stay self-aware, and also watch your fellow partygoers for the following signs that could indicate alcohol poisoning:
- Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
- Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
- Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
- Low body temperature
- Difficulty remaining conscious
- Passing out/unconsciousness
A person who becomes unconscious or can’t be awakened is at serious risk, and could suffer permanent brain damage or death. Do not assume the person will “sleep it off”—blood alcohol levels continue to rise even after the drinking has stopped. If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning—even if you don’t see the classic signs and symptoms—call 911 and seek immediate medical care.