Health
Prevent a hangover before bed with these science-backed tips and tricks.

5 Things To Do Before Bed To Help Ward Off A Hangover

Plan ahead for a less miserable morning.

By Caroline Burke and Molly Burford
Updated: 
Originally Published: 
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So you went out for the night intending to grab a drink or two, but you wound up having a complete and utter night. It can be a blast spending a long night out with friends — that is, until you wake up the next morning. A hangover can be worse than every flu you've ever had, not to mention it inspires minimal pity from your friends when you're begging them to bring you a breakfast sandwich. You might not be able to save yourself this time, but there are several things to do before bed to prevent a hangover that will save you from some of that pain next time.

By the time you reach drinking age, you've probably heard of tons of different "solutions" to save you from your hangover — some more believable than others. Unfortunately, though, there's no concrete cure for a hangover besides the passage of time. Le sigh.

However, there are things you can do to minimize the levels of pain and suffering you experience along the way, like hydrating, eating the right types of food, and trying (against all odds) to get a good night's sleep. Here’s what science has to say about the classic hangover cure go-tos and whether they really work.

01
Does Drinking Gatorade Prevent A Hangover?

In college, you or a friend may have discovered the magic that was chugging an ice-cold Gatorade after a night out. But does this strategy work across the board? Turns out, electrolyte beverages can help sometimes, but not necessarily always.

“It’s important to first state that they don’t always help,” says Dr. Jessica L. Moreno, PharmD, BCPP. “Some people find that sports drinks or electrolyte replacement drinks (e.g. Pedialyte) can be helpful to address the symptoms of dehydration that typically accompany hangovers.”

Electrolytes are important because they help you retain water and pee less frequently, thus allowing you to hydrate faster. And, since dehydration is one of the many symptoms of a hangover, it can’t hurt to chug some of the ‘rade. It just might not be a total cure all.

02
Will Taking An Ibuprofen Do Anything For Your Hangover?
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Taking an ibuprofen before you go to bed isn't a bad idea when you've had a serious night out. According to Cosmopolitan, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen work to fight the inflammation that alcohol can create in your system. It’s also safe to consume after drinking, as long as it’s not done all the time.

“Generally speaking, it is safe to take ibuprofen before bed after a night of drinking,” says Dr. Elizabeth Schlosser, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP. “Ibuprofen and drugs like it, called NSAIDS, should not be used constantly, as they can increase risks of bleeding and cardiovascular disease and can cause harm to the kidneys.” However, it’s important to note that the extent to which ibuprofen helps is up for debate. “Ibuprofen may help with headaches [from] a hangover but will likely not relieve any other symptoms,” she says.

You should definitely steer clear of any painkillers with acetaminophen, as they can be dangerous to mix with alcohol. “Acetaminophen should generally be avoided with alcohol because toxins from acetaminophen and alcohol are both processed by the liver,” explains Dr. Schlosser. “When there is too much of either substance, it becomes more difficult for the liver to process each of them.” Try leaving your ibuprofen by your bedside before you leave for the night, to avoid any confusion.

03
Do Multivitamins Prevent Hangovers?

Drinking can deplete your body’s natural reserve of micronutrients like zinc, B12, and folate, and some people swear that taking a multivitamin before bed is one way to speed up your recovery.

What does the science say about this? Honestly, not much. “It possibly may help, but there isn't any strong evidence to support this, especially if it is an occasional night of drinking,” says Dr. Schlosser. One 2020 study in Alcohol and Alcoholism did point to one supplement called L-cysteine that may prevent and even alleviate hangover symptoms like nausea, headache, stress, and anxiety. It also seems to nix the craving for that hair-of-the-dog drink the next day.

But regardless of whether or not you’re drinking, taking multivitamins on the reg might be a good idea if your body is lacking in any essential nutrients. Use this as an opportunity to explore a new habit of including supplements in your daily routine.

04
How Much Water Should You Drink To Stop A Hangover?

Hydration is the name of the hangover-fighting game, with one tiny asterisk: You don't want to get too hydrated, otherwise you run the risk of having to wake up all night to keep peeing, thus disrupting your sleep and potentially making yourself feel even worse come morning.

“Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to lose water and is a toxin,” says Dr. Schlosser. “Staying hydrated can drastically reduce these negative effects and decrease hangovers.”

To be safe, Cosmopolitan suggests drinking a glass or two of water before bed, then refilling it so you have something to gulp down in the morning when your throat feels like sandpaper.

If you can plan ahead while you’re out drinking, that’s even better. Dr. Moreno recommends drinking water between alcoholic drinks to reduce the effects of a hangover. Pacing yourself is key — it’s a marathon, not a race.

05
What Should You Eat To Prevent A Hangover?

Eating, in general, is important preparation for a night of drinking. But timing is key. “Eating helps before drinking has started, while drinking is happening, or very shortly after drinking has ended,” says Dr. Moreno. “The point of eating is to slow down the rate of alcohol absorption.”

Conventional wisdom (and your drunk brain) might advise getting pizza or an amazingly greasy breakfast sandwich on the way home, but in truth, you'll be better off making something simple and easily digestible that won’t disrupt your sleep (a crucial component of your hangover restoration). Dr. Moreno recommends foods higher in fat and protein like cold cuts and cheese. If you’re experiencing nausea, toast or another easily digestible card may help settle your stomach.

Studies referenced:

Barve, S., Chen, S. Y., Kirpich, I., Watson, W. H., & Mcclain, C. (2017). Development, Prevention, and Treatment of Alcohol-Induced Organ Injury: The Role of Nutrition. Alcohol research : current reviews, 38(2), 289–302.

Eriksson, C. J., Metsälä, M., Möykkynen, T., Mäkisalo, H., Kärkkäinen, O., Palmén, M., Salminen, J. E., & Kauhanen, J. (2020). L-Cysteine containing vitamin supplement which prevents Or Alleviates ALCOHOL-RELATED Hangover SYMPTOMS: NAUSEA, Headache, stress and anxiety. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 55(6), 660–666. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agaa082

Experts:

Dr. Jessica L. Moreno, PharmD, BCPP

Dr. Elizabeth Schlosser, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP