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.