According to Haitian tradition, all you have to do to rid yourself of a hangover is stick 13 black pins in the cork of last night’s hooch. Back in Genghis Khan’s day, the Mongolian warlord preferred a panacea consisting of sheep’s eyeballs soaked in brine and served in a tomato jus. Here at Men’s Health, we like to take a decidedly more scientific approach and tackle the physical effects on your body one by one.
This morning-after stimulus plan will help to cut this deficit, but more important is the dreaded impact on your body, the effects of which can last up to 24 hours. We’re going to reduce that by addressing the head-swimming effects of your low blood sugar, the dilated blood vessels in your brain, the breakdown of toxins in your liver, and the build up of inflammatory chemicals in your body – we know because we’ve tried it. Many times. There’s no need to wave the white flag from under the duvet. Come out fighting and you’ll cast out your hangover in under an hour.
Wake up +2 minutes: the perfect drink
Targets: weakened muscles, headache, dustbowl mouth Begin the fight-back with a different breed of cocktail to the flammable kind that rounded off the night before. Mix 500ml of fruit juice with the same amount of water and add ¼tsp of salt. This interrupts the dehydrating effect of alcohol that redirects water away from your kidneys.
“Salt ensures the liquid is taken up by your body and doesn’t just flush straight through,” says Dr Paul Stillman of the Expert Group on Hydration. The flash flood gets soaked up by thirsty muscles, plus your brain – which has shrunk without water and is tugging painfully at the lining of your skull. The sugar in the fruit juice also gives you an energy kick and speeds up the toxic clean-up in your liver, once the alcohol has been metabolised. Now that’s something worth drinking to.
+5 minutes: the perfect music
Targets: information processing, motivation to remain conscious, ability to focus your mind Can’t remember why Kenny Loggins is on your iPod this morning? That’s partly because your brain is operating through a dense fog of cytokines; chemicals which “interfere with normal processing and memory function in the brain,” says Stillman. But don’t put Kenny away just yet…
Research from Sunway University College in Malaysia found that certain types of music can stimulate your grey matter and greatly improve your focus. Which, let’s face it, is something you’re sorely lacking in this morning. Tracks that play at approximately 120bpm – think melodic house or Detroit techno – can improve your memory and were also found to have the greatest motivational effect in recent trials at Brunel University.
If you can’t face, or stomach, pulsating electronica this early in the morning, try some Mozart instead, in particular his 1781 ‘galant style’ Sonata For Two Pianos In D Major. Studies into the ‘Mozart effect’ show that it can clear your thinking by improving your spatial-temporal cognition. That’s right, Wolfgang will help you remember which way is up.