I awoke to birdsong filtering through the crack in my window. The sound, though, was not the pleasant singsong of bluebirds and robins, but the sinful hawking of, it seemed, vultures. Moreover, the sunlight which poured through the gaps in my clumsily closed curtains was less rays poured down from a beneficent god, and more luminescent horrors sent from Lucifer post-fall-from-grace. At some point during the night a very small man with very large hammer had crawled into my head just behind my eyeballs and begun pounding away, and, in my stomach, it seemed like waves of nausea were waiting until high tide when they might sweep up my gullet and be free into the world. Somehow also during my sleep—which judging from how I felt must have lasted all of fifteen minutes—I had gone partially blind, leaving me with a fuzzy greyness which crept in from the corners of my eyes, allowing me to see only through what appeared to be murky, borderless tunnels. Running my tongue over my teeth, I discovered several layers of grime; my legs ached as though I had been kneecapped; I tasted blood on my lips. In a rush of clarity, I realised what was the matter: I was hungover.
I clambered from bed, and regretted the decision immediately, for all aforementioned ailments intensified to the power of ten. I collapsed back into bed, wondering whether I would ever feel normal again and, more potently, how I was going to make myself feel even minutely better.
All have experienced the hangover, and yet people—students especially—make drastic mistakes in dealing with it. So, here are some failsafe tips for staving off the hangover or, if it’s an inevitability, curtailing it.
- Mixing your spirits with energy drinks leads to worse hangovers. Vodka Red Bull is your enemy on a night out. Cut your drinks with a sugar-free soft drink or, better yet, water. (Yes, water. It’s boring, but you’ll thank me tomorrow morning.)
- Before you get up and do something, make sure you’ve slept for as long as is physically possible. Stay in bed until you really can’t bear it any longer, and only then should you get up.
- Get up. And don’t lounge around in your dressing gown, stumbling through the house in a haze of regret, self-loathing and nausea. Have a shower, put on some clean clothes, brush your teeth, and have breakfast.
- Speaking of which: Whatever you do, don’t head to the local greasy spoon and stuff yourself full of meat and bread. Whoever came up with the idea of the Full English after a night of severe inebriation obviously had no idea what they were talking about. Have some pieces of fruit, a smoothie, maybe a few eggs if you can stomach it. Never should you fill yourself up with white carbohydrates and olive oil.
- Under no circumstances must you be alone. Kingsley Amis talked about the Physical Hangover and the Metaphysical Hangover. The Physical Hangover can be dealt with by yourself, but treatment for the Metaphysical Hangover necessarily entails social contact. Essential here is someone with whom you can spoon in bed for a while, but will be a good influence on what you eat and do for the rest of the day.
- This is perhaps the most important goal while on a hangover: Leave the house. If you can, try and have a nice long walk through some fields or woods with a couple of friends. Take lots of water and wear comfortable clothes. The nature will do you good, making you feel that life isn’t quite so dreary and pointless after all, and remind you that however sad and depressed you feel, something out there is beautiful/worth living for. The English countryside is perfect for this.
- Unless you absolutely must, do not smoke or drink alcohol again for the rest of the day. Smoking will not help regardless of how much you crave a cigarette, and the alcohol will only make you feel better again if you become drunk—and getting drunk is not a cure, but temporary respite.
- When you return home, get under the covers (again, remembering to stay in company) and put on a feel-good film; some kind of light comedy will do perfectly here. Sometimes a nice sentimental romcom will suffice, but bear in mind that, due to the Metaphysical Hangover, you might end up crying, which may make you feel better, but may also cause unbearable anxiety. You have been warned.
- Sleep early and, if possible, with another person. No illicit dealings have to take place under the sheets; there merely has to be the presence of another human being, someone who perhaps will hold you until the hangover sweats become unbearable.
- Essential to remember throughout the day is that you are not a failure, you have not let your mother down, and you are not suffering from a bout of clinical depression—you are just hungover.
- Music is essential for staving off the hangover, but avoid anything very gloomy or dark. Some good suggestions here are any Northern Soul musicians, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, any reggae or First Wave ska artist especially Bob Marley but excluding both The Police and UB40, or some fun pop music—think 50 Cent or Eminem. Avoid at all costs anything akin to Radiohead, Swans, Bon Iver, The XX etc.
- What you eat will define the rest of your day. You would do good to remember this.
- Whoever said six hours’ sleep is sufficient lied to you. If you didn’t end up getting in from the club at three and probably didn’t sleep until four, you need to try and sleep until at least midday, or, if you find yourself up early, take a mid-afternoon nap (preferably after your excursion).