We’ve all been there.
Maybe you had one too many drinks and woke up with a massive headache, leaving you groggy all morning.
At these moments, it’s easy to reach out for a cup of coffee. After all, it can relieve your headache and improve your concentration.
However, coffee has some negative attributes that may worsen your hangover.
Does the good outweigh the bad? Should you use coffee as a hangover remedy? Keep reading to learn more.
Does Coffee Help Hangovers? A Brief Introduction to Hangovers
Before we uncover if drinking coffee will help you forget your excessive alcohol consumption, let’s learn more about hangovers.
What Is a Hangover?
A hangover is when you experience negative physical and mental symptoms after drinking alcohol. They usually happen after heavy drinking, but some people experience them with minimal alcohol consumption.
How Common Are Hangovers?
According to this study, about 77% of people experience hangovers at least sometimes after heavy drinking. The others are “hangover-resistant.”
When Does a Hangover Start?
Hangovers typically begin several hours after you stop drinking alcohol.
At this point, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) falls back to zero. Once your BAC hits zero, your hangover symptoms will peak.
What Causes a Hangover? How Much Alcohol Causes a Hangover?
Some contributing factors to a hangover are:
- Effects of Alcohol: electrolyte imbalance, sleep disturbances, dehydration, low blood sugar levels, gastrointestinal disturbances
- Non-Alcohol Effects: non-alcohol ingredients in beverages, personality type, drug use (especially nicotine), family history
- Other: alcohol metabolism, alcohol withdrawal, acetaldehyde production
If you are susceptible to hangovers, you will usually get one after:
- Women: three to five standard drinks
- Men: five to seven standard drinks
These metrics consider a four-to-six-hour period. Sex differences exist because of size and alcohol metabolism.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hangover?
Hangover symptoms include:
- Gastrointestinal: vomiting, nausea, upset stomach
- Mood: anxiety, depression, irritability
- Sympathetic Hyperactivity: increased systolic blood pressure, sweating, tremor, rapid heartbeat
- Sleep: decreased REM, more slow-wave sleep, fewer hours asleep
- Cognitive: decreased concentration and attention
- Pain: muscle aches and headaches
- Sensory: photosensitivity, vertigo, audio-sensitivity
- Constitutional: weakness, fatigue, thirst
- Other: eye redness
Many hangover symptoms overlap with those of mild alcohol withdrawal. However, alcohol withdrawal will last several days, and you may experience seizures and hallucinations.
How Long Does a Hangover Last?
Hangover symptoms can last up to 24 hours after your last drink.
Nevertheless, the period depends on your sleep, age, fullness, hydration levels, medication, and pre-existing medical conditions.
Can I Speed Up Hangover Recovery? How Do I Stop Feeling Sick From a Hangover?
You can accelerate your hangover recovery through adequate hydration, sleep, over-the-counter pain relievers, and bland food.
While greasy food may sound appealing, it can irritate your stomach and lead to more nausea.
Are Hangovers Dangerous or Just Painful?
Hangovers can be both dangerous and painful.
Your decision-making, attention, concentration, and coordination may all get impaired after drinking. You could get into an accident while operating machinery or driving.
Can Coffee Really Cure a Hangover?
Unfortunately, drinking coffee will not cure your hangover. Whether you have black coffee or drink other caffeinated drinks, the caffeine can alleviate some hangover symptoms. This stimulant will increase your energy and make you more alert.
However, coffee is a diuretic that will make you urinate more. If you are already dehydrated from drinking alcohol, you would need to compensate with plenty of water. Furthermore, it can increase your heart rate, exacerbate mood issues, and worsen your dreaded hangover tremors.
Can Caffeine Treat Your Hangover Symptoms?
One symptom of hangovers is headaches. You may also feel tired and lack concentration. In these instances, coffee might help.
Caffeine May Avoid a Withdrawal Headache
Is coffee good for treating your hangover headache? Not quite. However, those who regularly consume coffee may have a worsened headache if they experience caffeine withdrawal.
If you have a pounding headache worsened by caffeine withdrawals, you should drink a small cup of coffee. Make sure to chase it with plenty of water and wait at least an hour before drinking more coffee.
Metabolism and Increases Heart Rate
It’s commonly known that caffeine can boost your metabolic rate, leading to fat loss. Nonetheless, it will not metabolize alcohol faster.
Also, coffee can increase your heart rate. While this may contribute to improvements in energy and focus, it could worsen your anxiety symptoms.
Hangover Cure Myths
Here are some popular myths surrounding hangover remedies.
Hangover Cure Myth #1: Have a drink the morning after
About 11% of social drinkers have an alcoholic beverage after a night of heavy drinking. Since more drinks will raise your blood alcohol concentration, you will lessen your symptoms. However, the hangover will return as your BAC hits zero again.
Hangover severity is often worsened by compounds called congeners that form during alcohol fermentation.
Methanol is a popular congener that can become a toxic substance in your body called formaldehyde. If you have another alcoholic drink, the methanol might get excreted as you break down the alcohol, reducing your hangover severity.
Nevertheless, the “hair of the dog” technique will not cure your hangover. Often, it just delays the inevitable and can lead to alcohol abuse.
Hangover Cure Myth #2: Just take some medicine before bed
Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can reduce muscle aches and pains. These medications can cause you to release more stomach acid, leading to irritation.
When combined with alcohol, you can harm your liver. Try to wait at least 24 hours before taking an NSAID to avoid an upset stomach.
You can try to take some vitamins to repair your electrolyte balance and nutritional deficiencies. Taking a B Vitamin Complex and Vitamin C supplement with a sports drink can restore some of the nutrients you lost from drinking.
Hangover Cure Myth #3: Drink coffee
Your favorite coffee recipe will not cure your hangover. You can reduce fatigue and minimize caffeine headaches. However, it will not alleviate other hangover symptoms.
Instead, reach for more water. If you start vomiting, go for an electrolyte drink like Pedialyte.
The Takeaway: Coffee Won’t Sober You Up
Does coffee help hangovers?
While caffeine can help with some aspects of your hangover, it will not sober you up. At times, coffee can do more harm than good.
Coffee Could Make Your Headache Worse
When you have a headache, blood vessels will either swell or tighten. This action increases blood flow around your brain, which puts pressure on surrounding nerves and triggers pain messages.
Coffee can narrow your blood vessels to restrict blood flow, which would alleviate the pain. However, those with a caffeine addiction will likely get a terrible headache without it.
Hangovers can take you out of your morning routine. If you skip your daily cup of joe, you will get a caffeine headache on top of your hangover one. As a result, you will have worse symptoms.
Also, caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which can lead to a headache.
Think About Your Heart
Central nervous system stimulation can cause heart palpitations or an increased heart rate. One hangover symptom is a rapid heartbeat, so coffee could exacerbate this issue.
On the other hand, regular coffee drinking can reduce your risk of an irregular heartbeat. Moderate consumption will not negatively affect your cardiovascular health.
Furthermore, people with hypertension and other blood pressure issues may experience increased blood pressure from drinking coffee.
Coffee Is a Diuretic
If you are not a regular coffee drinker, you will want to avoid it when hungover because of its diuretic effects. Being hungover can cause dehydration on its own. When combined with a diuretic, you will need to drink significantly more water to stay hydrated.
The 7 Best Ways to Prevent (and Cure) a Hangover
The next time you go out for drinks, keep these tips in mind to prevent and cure a hangover.
Avoid Drinks with Congeners
As sugar-fermenting yeasts make ethanol, congeners can form. These toxic chemicals can increase hangover severity and frequency.
Steer clear of bourbon, whiskey, tequila, and cognac. Colorless alcohol like rum, vodka, and gin have minimal levels of congeners.
Alcohol can make you pee more often, so you should drink lots of water to replenish your stores. Hydration can cure your dry mouth, thirst, fatigue, and headache symptoms. Try to have a glass of water between each drink and drink a few cups before sleep.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Poor sleep can increase irritability and fatigue. By getting your full eight hours, you can recover the damage done by your drinking.
Eat a Good Breakfast
Hangovers can lower your blood sugar levels. If you naturally have low blood sugar, you will probably have a worse hangover. Make sure to eat a late-night meal or a hearty breakfast to maintain your blood sugar levels and mitigate your headache and weakness.
Try Certain Supplements
Low-grade inflammation can cause many hangover symptoms. Try some natural supplements like ginger, red ginseng, and prickly pear extract to reduce your symptoms. You can also take B vitamins, zinc, and vitamin C.
Take a Pain Reliever
If you have a strong stomach, you can try taking a pain reliever. These can alleviate your headache and muscle pains. If you have alcohol in your system, the medications can damage your liver. Try to wait until you feel your hangover has peaked before taking a pill.
Also, stick to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other NSAIDs. Acetaminophen and alcohol can cause further liver damage.
Hair of the Dog
While drinking more alcohol will only delay your hangover, it could sometimes reduce the severity by inhibiting the conversion of methanol into formaldehyde. From there, you discharge the methanol from peeing and breathing.
You should only use the “hair of the dog” technique as a last-ditch resort to avoid alcohol dependence.
Does coffee help hangovers? Sometimes.
Coffee can reduce grogginess and help you function a little better during the day. It can also steer you away from a caffeine headache.
If you choose to drink coffee, make sure you drink plenty of water to restore your hydration. Also, stay close to the bathroom.
Treat Your Symptoms
Not everyone gets the same hangover symptoms. Choose a hangover remedy that meets your needs. No medical news outlet has found a one-size-fits-all hangover cure. Nevertheless, everyone can benefit from:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating carbohydrate-rich and bland foods
- Getting some rest
- Restoring lost nutrients with supplements
Dealing with Your Hangover
For the most part, you will need to wait out your hangover. While you can reduce the intensity, you have to let it run its course. If you’re going to drink excessively, do it on a night where you do not need to do much the next day.
Coffee may not cure your hangover, but it can help with your energy levels. If you go for a cup of joe, make sure you drink plenty of water, get lots of sleep, and eat a nutritious meal. You will have to wait out your hangover no matter what.
Do you want to learn more about what coffee can and can’t do? Consider reading more coffee facts to learn the power of your mug.