Yes, New Years Eve came and went, leaving for some a resolution and others a hangover. It is not too late, however, to shed some light on the cure of the latter.
Curing a hangover is not much of a mystery to those who are of the age and enjoy a night on the town: take an aspirin before bed, drink lots of Vitamin C, eat a big brunch, hit the hot tub, and you’re ready for that next cocktail.
But just what is it about drinking too much alcohol that drags our bodies into the miserable inferno which we’ve all experienced.
Dr. Jamshid Ghajarm a neurosurgeon and president of The Brain Trauma Foundation in New York has broken down the enigma into a mindless equation, “dehydration plus fatigue equals hangover.”
Alcohol, you see, is a diuretic. This accounts both for the incessant peeing, and dehydration. The excessive loss of fluids interferes with circulation and this is what causes you to feel headachy, dizzy, and weak.
To reduce the chances of hangover, alternate glasses of water with alcoholic beverages; and of course, do not drink on an empty stomach.
The fatigue which accompanies hangovers results from the alcohol-induced buzz preventing the brain from getting a normal night of sleep. Alcohol works as a depressant. It numbs your central nervous system, “like anesthesia,” according to Dr. Ghajar.
“People don’t realize that. They think it’s like cocaine.” He says, “You want to reach that middle range of blood alcohol where you get a nice buzz but you’re still awake.”
When we drink well past the normal limit and go to sleep, our liver does its job, metabolizing the booze, ushering it out of our blood stream. Within hours, our alcohol level has gone down, our excitatory brain circuits have rallied, and we are back to the level of buzzed arousal. This is why, when we go to bed drunk, we find ourselves wide-awake at four in the morning, sleepless, nauseous.
When we wake up in the morning, we feel dehydrated, fatigued, nauseous, and our electrolytes are all out of whack – our blood sugar levels, alas, plunged.
This has to do with why hangovers often bring an emotional depression. Dr. Harris Stratyner, clinical associate professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and vice chairman to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence’s board of directors says, “A hangover plays out psychologically just as much as it does physiologically.” So our minds mirror our bodies, you could say.
Therefore, realizing that getting drunk at parties is inevitable, along with the hang over, Dr. Sratyner says,
“I would say to the people who are hung over and depressed: This too shall pass.”