Call time on hangovers

Men's Fitness - - Contents - Dr Nick Knight

Take the doc­tor’s ad­vice and avoid morningafter pain for­ever

Medicine has come a long way in the past cen­tury, but cur­ing a hang­over is still a tall or­der. First prob­lem: you’re se­verely de­hy­drated. As well as hav­ing poor hy­dra­tion prop­er­ties, booze also turns off your anti-di­uretic hor­mone, mak­ing you uri­nate a lot more than usual. Be­ing low on flu­ids com­pounds the headache you’ve got as a re­sult of the al­co­hol di­lat­ing the blood ves­sels in your brain. The fi­nal piece of the morn­ing-af­ter puz­zle is ex­haus­tion, brought on by low blood sugar and dis­rupted sleep. Oh, and your ir­ri­tated stom­ach lin­ing is prob­a­bly mak­ing you gassy too. Fun times.

So what are the best cop­ing strate­gies? Cer­tainly not hair of the dog, an old wives’ tale that will only make you feel worse and fur­ther mess up your me­tab­o­lism – the last thing your body needs at this point is more al­co­hol! To off­set the de­hy­dra­tion be­fore it kicks in, add an oc­ca­sional glass of wa­ter into the mix while booz­ing – you can al­ways neck a cheeky half of H2O at the bar when it’s your round if your mates frown on such sen­si­ble be­hav­iour – and then drink a bit more of it be­fore hit­ting the sack. Food will cer­tainly help too, al­though you want to steer clear of any­thing too rich that’ll fur­ther up­set your stom­ach. Ideally eat nat­u­rally sweet, min­i­mally pro­cessed snacks with lit­tle if any fi­bre – think honey on sour­dough toast – as this will re­dress your blood sugar bal­ance with­out in­duc­ing ad­di­tional toi­let trips.

Fi­nally, try to get as much sleep as pos­si­ble af­ter a ses­sion and keep sip­ping wa­ter reg­u­larly through­out the fol­low­ing day.

Q: I spend all day at a com­puter and a lot of my free time star­ing at a screen. Is this bad for me?

You may be at risk of eye strain, and while there’s no last­ing da­m­age, it can cause short-term dis­com­fort. Take reg­u­lar screen breaks us­ing the 20-20-20 rule, whereby you rest your eyes ev­ery 20 min­utes by look­ing at an ob­ject 20 me­tres away for 20 sec­onds. You should also con­sider op­ti­mis­ing your screen bright­ness so that it’s sim­i­lar to your sur­round­ings and get­ting an anti- glare film for your tablet, com­puter or phone.

Q: Can naps make up for my lack of night-time sleep?

While the old maxim “noth­ing beats a good night’s sleep” is cer­tainly true, tac­ti­cal nap­ping can give you a re­fresh­ing boost. But it’s cru­cial to time it right or you risk mak­ing your­self feel worse. The two ideal du­ra­tions are 20 min­utes, which nudges you into the first and sec­ond sleep cy­cle stages, and 60 min­utes, which pushes you into the third and fourth (en­hanc­ing your mem­ory net­works and help­ing ce­ment new learn­ing). You don’t want to get caught be­tween the two time win­dows or sleep longer than an hour, be­cause you’ll wake up feel­ing grog­gier than be­fore you dozed off, so al­ways re­mem­ber to set an alarm.

Q: How much coffee is too much?

It’s easy to slip into a cy­cle of re­fills, but ideally you want to cap your daily caf­feine in­take at 400mg, which equates to roughly four cups of coffee. Ex­ceed­ing this could cause heart tre­mors and pal­pi­ta­tions. For max­i­mum im­pact, have a cup 45 min­utes be­fore you need to be at peak alert­ness – ie be­fore a weightlift­ing ses­sion or a big meet­ing at work – and steer clear of it all to­gether in the even­ing, when its stim­u­lat­ing pow­ers will dis­rupt your sleep.

A GP in train­ing, with a PhD in per­for­mance nu­tri­tion and phys­i­ol­ogy, Nick isMF’s res­i­dent health ex­pert. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @Dr_Nick­Knight

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