The surprising connection between sleep & hangovers

FeaturedFood & DrinkHealth & Fitness

Written by:


If you’ve ever gotten a hangover before, then you probably don’t need me to describe the symptoms for you. While every person is different, it’s safe to say anyone who’s ever had a hangover is familiar with tiredness, thirst, headaches, irritability, and maybe even nausea.

When you do find yourself with a hangover, the only thing on your mind is how to get rid of it as soon as possible—and what works for you may not work for someone else. But have you ever wondered if getting extra Z’s could help?

Like most questions that pertain to sleep, this one isn’t black and white. But there are a few tips and tricks that could help your hangover—and sleep is definitely one of them.

What’s the connection between hangovers and sleep?

Hangovers and sleep are definitely connected in more ways than one. If you don’t have a good, restful night’s sleep, you’re more likely to experience persisting hangover symptoms the next day.

But drinking alcohol in and of itself can actually prevent you from having a good night’s sleep before the hangover even starts.

According to studies on alcohol and sleep, you tend to spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep and REM sleep (the period when you dream) during the later part of the night, after you’ve thrown back a few cocktails.

This can lead to feeling less rested the day after. Drinking can also help you fall asleep faster but cause frequent wake-ups in the middle of the night.

So yeah, it’s kind of a double-edged sword. Getting a good night’s sleep can help ensure your hangover symptoms aren’t too severe the next day, but consuming alcohol can make it harder to sleep well and therefore worsen hangover symptoms.

Can sleep help ease a hangover?

The answer to this question is yes and no. Sleep can definitely lessen the severity of your hangover symptoms, but it’s not a cure-all.

When you fall asleep after consuming alcohol, it might be more difficult to prep your space for optimal sleep—but if you can do so, it’ll certainly be worth it.

This might include sleeping in breathable, comfortable clothing, turning the temperature down to the optimal sleep level (between 60 and 67 degrees), and drawing the shades so you’re not disturbed too early in the morning by sunlight.

One study actually found the severity of hangovers people experienced the next day wasn’t dependent on the amount of alcohol they drank but on the quality of sleep they got after drinking.

Another suggested less sleep after drinking led to increased cognitive impairment as well as worsened hangover symptoms.

How to use sleep to lessen the effects of a hangover

There are a few ways you can utilize sleep to feel better the day after drinking.

  • Go to sleep early the day after drinking. As much as possible, try to fall asleep early so you can get extra hours of shuteye for your body to heal and refresh itself.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark. You can pre-set your thermostat to be at the optimal sleep temperature before you head out so you can fall asleep comfortably when you get home. Also, keep a sleep mask nearby to make sure the sunlight doesn’t disturb you before you’re ready.
  • Avoid drinking more alcohol (or caffeine) too close to bedtime. It’s a common myth that coffee can help you “sober up” and lessen a hangover the next day. Drinking coffee after consuming alcohol has the potential to disrupt your sleep cycle for longer and throw off your circadian rhythm.
  • Drink plenty of water before bed. You can place a water carafe next to your bed to make this easier. Alcohol causes dehydration, which is what you’re feeling the next day when you have a hangover.
  • Eat a well-balanced meal after you drink and as soon as you wake up. This can help support your blood sugar levels. Having low blood sugar can make a hangover feel worse.


Why can’t I sleep when hungover?

Your body’s still metabolizing alcohol when you experience a hangover, which might make it more difficult for your body to fully relax and bring on sleep.

According to one study, “Alcohol significantly decreased sleep efficiency and rapid eye movement sleep, and next-day self-reported sleepiness was significantly increased during a hangover.”

Will sleeping help a hangover?

Sleeping definitely won’t hurt a hangover, and it can help your body recover since your body goes into “recovery mode” any time you sleep. However, the quality of the sleep you get may be disrupted by the hangover.

How much should you sleep after a hangover?

This is up to you and will be different for each person, but as much as possible is always a good answer. If you can relax and drift off to sleep comfortably during a hangover, then chances are you’ll start to feel better much sooner. Just make sure you drink plenty of water before falling asleep and after you wake up.

Want to enjoy a drink without the next-day hangover and trouble sleeping? Check out our mocktail roundup for booze-free recipes that won’t disrupt your sleep.


This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

Never, ever mix these meds with alcohol


Drinking alcohol while taking medication may seem like no big deal, but combining the two can often be very dangerous.

If you’ve been prescribed medication and aren’t sure if it’s OK to drink that red wine, you might want to think twice about hitting the bottle. There are more than 100 medications that can cause issues when mixed with alcohol.

Combining them can include symptoms that range from something as minor as nausea to more serious complications, like organ damage, stomach bleeds, difficulty breathing and even death.

One study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 42 percent of people who drink alcohol were taking medication that could negatively react with the drink. So how do you know what is dangerous to mix with booze and what’s not?

Here’s a list of medications that should never be mixed with alcohol, along with some of the possible health risks. It should be noted that the risks vary based on the exact type of medication.


Related: Does your state have the worst healthcare in America?


Risks include: Drowsiness, dizziness, risk of overdose, risk of high blood pressure/heart attack, breathing difficulty, impaired motor control, liver damage, memory problems and unusual behavior.


Risks include: Drowsiness, dizziness, increased overdose risk.


Risks include: Increased heart rate, sudden changes in blood pressure, stomach pain, vomiting, headache, and liver damage and reduced effectiveness.


Risks include: Dizziness, drowsiness, impaired concentration, possible heart or liver damage.


Risks include: Dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, heart problems such as arrhythmia.


Risks include: Internal bleeding or an increased risk of blood clots, stroke or heart attack.


Risks include: Liver damage, increased flushing and itching, increased stomach bleeding.


Risks include: Drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk for overdose.


nensuria / istockphoto


Risks include: Drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk for overdose, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired motor control, unusual behavior and memory problems.


Risks include: Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is a particularly bad medication to mix with alcohol, as it can lead to liver damage. Other risks include upset stomach, bleeding and ulcers, and rapid heartbeat.


As the NIH points out, while everyone should be following these guidelines, women and the elderly are at an even greater risk for some of the negative side effects of mixing alcohol with certain medications.

Women’s bodies have less water than men’s do, so the rate at which women process alcohol is slower. Likewise, our bodies are slower to process alcohol as we age, so the elderly are at greater risk because of this, as well as the fact that they’re more likely to take medications.

The bad news for women and alcohol doesn’t stop with mixing medications. Recent studies have found that a drink a day is tied to an increased breast cancer risk and that even moderate drinking may alter our brains.


While the researched is mixed on the health benefits and detriments of drinking alcohol, one thing is decidedly clear: Long-term, excessive alcohol use is terribly damaging to your brain and your body, with complications including the liver condition cirrhosis and dementia.


When in doubt, always consult your doctor about what is safe for you. And if you’re not sure, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake—better safe than sorry!

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by



Rostislav_Sedlacek / istockphoto


Featured Image Credit: Space_Cat / iStock.