The Hushed Hangover Symptom That May Be Secretly Ruining your Life
Attention casual partygoers, Midtown barflys, endless mimosa junkies and all other levels of liquor lovers: We’ve returned to the hustle and bustle of the spring semester. What does this mean? For one, we’ve collectively survived the football tailgates and the myriad of holiday “spirits” that carried us through winter break.
I’ve heard stories of day-after drinking symptoms ranging from a full-blown hangover to some mild headaches, but there’s one particular ailment that seems to be disregarded during the recovery brunch chitchats.
Hangxiety: The Prime Suspect for Sunday Scaries
Hangover anxiety, or “Hangxiety,” is one of the physical and mental consequences you may feel the day after drinking.
If we’re going to get scientific, your body metabolizes alcohol into acetaldehyde, a compound more toxic than texts from your ex during a Mercury retrograde. This is one of the likely culprits to blame for the inflammation and dehydration that causes you to feel, more or less, like death.
While you’re pounding back Pedialyte and deleting posts from your Snapchat story, your body and brain start to rebalance and cleanse your system. This sends many of us into a mini-withdrawal from alcohol, temporarily affecting our nervous systems and, therefore, our moods.
As easy as it feels to get out of your Uber, (hopefully) take your makeup off and throw yourself into bed, your lingering buzz isn’t guaranteeing you the sweetest of dreams after all. A 2018 study compared sleep quality among subjects who consumed different amounts of alcohol and found that high amounts of alcohol (that means more than two servings per day for the fellas, or one serving per day for the ladies) decreased sleep quality by 39.2%. Messing with my beauty sleep? That’s not cute. The Sleep Foundation recommends you should stop drinking alcohol at least four hours* before bedtime to reduce the risk of sleep disruptions.
*As much as taking this literally may mean calling it quits on the sips by 10 p.m. if you plan to be in bed by 2, take it with a grain of salt (and no, I don’t mean for your tequila shot). Maybe just hold off on that tempting frenzy to the bar for “Last Call” and down some water instead.
It’s no doubt that drinking can lead us to feelings of bloating and nausea, but having a few too many can lead to an imbalance of more harmful bacteria than good. The toxins released are not the only thing to blame for puffiness and inflammation, an imbalanced gut might also be to blame for digestive problems, lack of energy, weight fluctuations, skin troubles and a tougher time regulating our emotions.
Alexa, play “Serotonin” by girl in red
And sometimes, plain old anxiety is to blame. A 2019 study looked at 97 people with varying levels of shyness who drank socially. Researchers asked 50 of the participants to drink as they usually would, and the other 47 participants to stay sober.
By measuring levels of anxiety before, during, and after the drinking or sober periods, they found that those who drank alcohol saw some decrease in anxiety symptoms when drinking, but those who had higher tendencies to be shy when sober ended up reporting higher levels of anxiety the next day.
All of these physical and mental symptoms are no doubt a cocktail for disaster. The good news? Drawing our attention to the causes of these queasy, uneasy feelings can help us overcome them in the future.
A Quick Guide to Navigating Your Hangxiety
As much as you can, treat the day after as a time to recover. Nourish and cleanse your body inside and out. Have a soothing playlist queued up filled with songs that never fail to make you feel better. You might even want to try sweating it out! I know the last thing you may want to hear as you nurse a headache is, “We should hit the gym,” or go on a run, but the endorphin boost you get is a total game changer.
Don’t forget to take time for yourself before jumping into another busy day. Check out the TikTok below as a little cheat sheet:
Last Call on my Commentary
I’m not here to slap you on the wrist for indulging in some fun nights on the town or a wine-heavy charcuterie night with the girlies. However, I can’t help but feel there is a stigma around discussing these anxieties, whether it's some mild Sunday afternoon jitters or a full-blown, post-party panic attack. Why are we so much more comfortable telling our friends that we woke up with our head in the toilet than opening up about our racing thoughts?
Let’s make 2022 about mindfulness. Partake in moderation. Check in with yourself as often as you check on your besties.
Or, my personal favorite, leave yourself a fresh set of PJs folded on your bed next to your emotional support water bottle of choice. Maybe even a little “welcome home” note-to-self. After all, self-love is the start of all good things. Why not start your week off with it too? Cheers!