Wednesday, December 10, 2008


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.


Stephanie Davis said...

Great post Deb. A few years ago, I went through a phase where I used to binge drink almost every weekend.
Now if I were to attempt more than two glasses of wine, I am pretty much guaranteed to throw up (nice) but before i even get to 2 i get incredibly dehydrated and simply don't want to continue. I haven't had more than half a glass for a whole year now.
I read that that headache you get during a hangover is your brain tugging at its protective casing as it shrinks when dehydrated from alcohol. That and the fact that the lovely tipsy feeling is actually mild poisoning is enough deterrant for me.
Others will disagree! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh dear - i'm in trouble then - (dont read on if things gross you out) my plan is to drink till i throw up which equals no calories - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I AM JOKING!!!!!!!!!!!

GREAT post Debs xx Will think twice before i hit the alcohol again - well AFTER tomorrow night ;)

Splice said...

LOL Fern you crack me up!! It won't stop me from drinking in moderation.

Hey Steph, thanks for dropping by :-) I love that tipsy feeling but never looked at it as a mild poisoning. Still love my red wine hee hee.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, it's given me something to think about Deb. ;o) xxx

Shannon said...

Great post Deb... I had to laugh, as I was actually sitting here with alcohol reading posts! oops... Definatley gives me something to think about.

Just caught up on the rest of your blog, glad to hear your new job is going so well. x