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The Morning After: A College Student’s Guide to Beating Hangovers

Knowing which classes you can skip is half the battle.

How to Function After a Function

Knowing which classes you can skip is half the battle.

By Michelle Hy, Portland State University

Let’s be real: You’re in college, so whether or not you’re of age, you’ve most likely drunk your fill of the devil’s Kool-Aid.

I’m also willing to bet that you probably woke up the next morning hating absolutely everything. And if you’ve ever made the mistake of overdrinking on a weekday, then you’ve also experienced the awful sensation of having a hangover when you can’t afford to have a hangover.

The Morning After: A College Student’s Guide to Beating Hangovers

You are not alone. I too have made the mistake of excessively drinking the night before a 10am, and have soldiered through the nauseating headaches and gnarly cottonmouth on more than one occasion. I’ve made eye contact through a bloodshot gaze many mornings after, and I’ve long since given up on hiding the absolute wreck that is my life.

But isn’t that why you go to college? To learn the lessons of life just enough to scrape on by? Hell to the yeah. Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop for hangovers, but fortunately, they don’t have to throw you off your groove either.

So here’s a crash course on hangovers, and more importantly, a few foolproof ways to beat them that don’t involve soul-draining abstinence.

What’s a Hangover?

I’m not going to stretch this hangover tutorial into a 15-week course and charge your firstborn as tuition because, to be blunt, scientists still aren’t 100 percent sure what a hangover is or why your body feels as craptastic as it does the morning after.

They know dehydration has a lot to do with the unpleasantness. They also know that alcohol inflames your stomach, which is probably what makes you feel nauseous. Also, when your body metabolizes alcohol, it produces acetaldehyde, a byproduct actually more toxic than alcohol. It should come as no surprise, then, that your body does all it can to discourage you putting too much of that shit into it.

Fun fact: I, as an Asian, have a weaker version of the enzyme meant to break down alcohol. In turn, Asian bodies are even worse at handling acetaldehyde, which explains why our faces and necks flush so quickly, and why we feel the dizzying, nauseating effects of alcohol a lot faster than, say, our Scandinavian counterparts.

On the plus side, this genetic mutation also makes us more resistant to alcoholism. If you’re a fellow Asian reading this, you’re welcome. I hope I’ve given you a guilt-free way to cope through that engineering program of yours.

Now that you’re a couple of factoids more familiar with the science of hangovers, here’s how you can beat them.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

As a frenetic college senior, I’ve made a habit of neglecting basic needs of my body, such as leafy greens and water. It’s easy to forget, but this is one of the most important lessons in excessive drinking you will ever learn: Drink all the water you can get your boozy hands on. Dehydration may not be the only culprit behind your hangover symptoms, but a lack of water will definitely contribute to that pounding headache of yours if you’re not careful.

I know: Hydrating is hard enough to remember when you’re sober, and alcohol does little to help your judgment, plus you’ll be too busy committing millennial debaucheries to linger over a Evian. But you don’t have much of an excuse, because you’d have to get pretty damn drunk to completely forget to drink a little water here and there.

Another benefit of hydration is that it helps pace your alcohol consumption.

Overdrinking becomes more difficult when your stomach’s half-filled with water.

Really though, I can’t emphasize enough how dramatically hydrating helps. I’m practically a walking water testimonial, because I haven’t woken up with a hangover in months!

Get Some Shut Eye

All right, I know you’re going to ignore this one out of stubbornness or as a result of logistic impossibilities, but I’m going to recommend it anyway. After drinking enough to put a bear down, one of your best remedies is to draw the blinds, barricade your side of the dorm with your untouched textbooks, go to bed and stay there for the better part of tomorrow.

In all honesty, I lied when I said I’ve gone to many a 10am class hungover. The reality is that I skipped on those shameful mornings. Truancy isn’t something I’d recommend weekly or in the case of important classes, but mindfully dodging a couple times a semester can do you some good. Maybe even use the down time to reflect on why you shouldn’t drink the evening before you have responsibilities.

You and your poor decisions have done enough. Let your body recuperate and tell that nosey roommate of yours to fuck off.

Pace Yourself

You might not like this one either, because like me and all other young people, you’re convinced you’re invincible. But still, like I mentioned above with the water—pace yourself. I’m no monk, so I’m not a heavyweight proponent of teetotalism, but I do believe in the wisdom of moderation.

You don’t have to start off with a shot of vodka and a glass of whatever they’re mixing in the trash can. Start with a beer or two and check in, making sure to account for some lag time. And most importantly, don’t keep drinking if you feel like you’re going to blow chunks.

College is a time to experiment and explore limits. You’re there not only to study O-chem and memorize Plato’s cave yarn, but to learn about how to live life beyond the classroom.

And while it’s vital that you remember to enjoy yourself, you also have to learn how to balance business with pleasure. You didn’t take out student loans so you could pull all-nighters under a keg. Drink with some compassion for your future self.

And don’t forget to hydrate.

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