9 evidence-based ways to prevent a hangover

A hangover is what some people experience the morning after an evening of heavy drinking. Symptoms typically include a headache, dehydration, tiredness, and nausea and vomiting.

The severity of a person’s hangover can depend on many factors, such as how much and what type of alcohol they drank, how much sleep they got, and whether they had any food or water.

Here, we look at nine ways to prevent or reduce the severity of a hangover.

1. Drinking in moderation

The best way to avoid a hangover is to drink alcohol in moderation or not at all. The more alcohol someone drinks, the more likely they are to have a severe hangover the next day.

How much is safe for an individual to drink will vary from person to person and depends on many factors, such as how much food they have eaten, how much water they have drunk, and how much sleep they have had.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2015–2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that only adults of legal age should drink alcohol and they should only consume it in moderate amounts, consisting of:

  • up to one drink per day for women
  • up to two drinks per day for men

These guidelines consider a single drink to be

  • 12 ounces (oz) of 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) beer
  • 8oz of 7 percent ABV malt liquor
  • 5 oz of a 12 percent ABV wine
  • 1.5 oz of a 40 percent ABV distilled spirit or liquor

2. Drinking water

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases a person’s need to urinate and can cause some people to be at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated.

Drinking plenty of water alongside alcoholic beverages can help a person stay hydrated and reduce the symptoms of dehydration, such as thirst, fatigue, and headache.

3. Getting a good night’s sleep

Drinking a lot of alcohol and going to bed early do not necessarily go hand in hand. However, getting plenty of sleep can help reduce the effects of a hangover the following day.

Alcohol can have a negative impact on both the quality and duration of sleep. By getting a good night’s sleep, a person can help their body to recover from the night before, so try lying in or going to bed early the next day.

Certain alcoholic beverages contain chemicals known as congeners. These chemicals are impurities and can contribute towards hangover symptoms.

Drinks high in congeners include:

  • whiskey, particularly bourbon
  • cognac
  • tequila

Drinks with low levels of congeners include:

  • vodka
  • rum
  • gin

In one study, the researchers found that congeners affected the severity of hangovers, with people feeling worse after drinking bourbon than with vodka.

It is important for a person to eat a good meal before drinking.

Eating before or at the time of drinking can slow down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.

Food can help keep a person’s blood alcohol concentration lower and may reduce the effects of a hangover.

9. A good breakfast

Having low blood sugar levels may make a hangover worse. Eating a good breakfast can help to maintain blood sugar levels as well as provide the body with the right combination of vitamins and minerals to function better.


Drinking in moderation or not at all is the best way to avoid a hangover. However, it is essential to remember that excessive drinking, and even moderate drinking, can have an adverse impact on a person’s short-term or long-term health.

People who drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol are putting themselves at increased risk of:

  • heart disease
  • certain cancers
  • liver disease
  • nervous system damage, including brain damage and peripheral neuropathy

The risk of developing these conditions increases over time with the amount of alcohol a person drinks.

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