When you drink alcohol, your liver breaks it down into certain compounds, one of these is acetaldehyde, which makes you feel rubbish. Other compounds known as congeners also contribute to your hangover. These compounds give alcohol its colour, flavour and smell, and are more abundant in dark-coloured alcohol such as red wine, brandy and rum.
Sleep deprivation is another hangover factor; not just the late night, but also because alcohol impairs your ability to get a good night's sleep. So you might pass out easily, but you are not getting the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep you need to feel rested. Prevention is the best cure
If you want to avoid a hangover then don't get dehydrated in the first place – this means drinking plenty of water before you head out and drinking water or other non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night. You should also have more water before bed and again when you wake up.
However, drinking bucket loads of water will not inoculate you against a hangover if you go on a drinking binge as you 'poison' yourself when you consume too much alcohol, warns Allsop.
You can lessen your chances of a hangover, if you:
* Don't drink on an empty stomach * Eat throughout the night * Dilute your drinks or chose low alcohol alternatives * Enjoy your alcoholic drinks – slowly * Avoid dark coloured drinks – red wine, brandy etc... * Limit the number of drinks you have
But once the damage is done there is no quick fix. All you can do is:
* Rehydrate yourself – drink water, juice, etc.. but steer clear of tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks as they will dehydrate you more. * Eat small amounts and go for something healthy and easy to digest rather than the big, fatty fry up – especially if you're already feeling nauseous. * Rest – take it easy, you are not going to be at your best so you should avoid doing anything that requires intense concentration – driving, operating heavy machinery etc...
There is considerable debate on what is a safe amount of alcohol to drink but the National Health and Medical Research Council has guidelines on alcohol consumption, which are under review. Based on the existing guidelines, men should drink no more than four standard drinks a day on average and no more than six on any one day, while women should drink no more than two standard drinks a day on average and no more than four on any single day.
We all know the best cure for a hangover is not to drink too much in the first place, so take it easy when you head out and you won't feel like death the next day.
Professor Steve Allsop is the director of the National Drug and Research Institute at Curtin University of Technology, he spoke to Claudine Ryan.
Having completed my Cert III and Cert IV in Personal Training it is my desire to help people achieve a healthy lifestyle by guiding them in the right direction and supporting them 100 percent.
Life is too short, I have learnt so much about myself since I starting competing as a figure bodybuilder, never give up on your dreams, don't let an opportunity slip through your fingers and never have regrets!
Always treasure your true friends as they are with you for life.