Lots of people enjoy hanging out with friends at the bar, even if it means you might have to suffer through a hangover the next day. But then that innocent hangover actually turns into a 2 day hangover. Why does this happen?
There’s a bunch of different factors that make hangovers worse and/or longer. Here are the most common reasons why you’re struggling through a two day hangover:
1. Not enough water
Water is hugely important when drinking alcohol but is often forgotten. Get yourself 4 pints deep and you’ll probably forget to drink some water, too.
However, how much water you drink during a night out has a massive impact on how hungover you’ll feel and how long your hangover will truly last. Because alcohol causes a diuretic effect, both alcohol and your lack of water causes some serious dehydration. Dehydration itself can cause headaches, weakness and dizziness.
Dehydration only makes everything worse, so many sure to drink water or non-alcoholic drinks when you’re at the bar, too.
Tip: If you forget everything else, make sure to stay hydrated!
2. Drink too much too quickly
Your body can only process so much alcohol in so little time. If you drink slowly and pace yourself, your body will have a much easier time breaking down the alcohol and eliminate it from your system. This also means that you won’t get as drunk, typically.
If you overload your body with alcohol in a short amount of time, you’ll likely experience two things:
- You’ll get drunker, quicker
- You’ll pay for it much more the next day (or the following 48 hours)
Sometimes you can lose track of time or how quickly you’ve had that last cocktail, but slowing down the amount you drink really does make a difference. It also helps to pick drinks that you naturally drink slower, like an iced cocktail that’s too cold to drink fast compared to a shot that you consume in a second.
Tip: Drink slowly, slowly, slowly. Even choose drinks that force you to drink slowly!
3. We process alcohol slower with age
You might find that you just can’t handle alcohol like you used to. Remember those university parties where you seemed like you could drink anything? Now you have a glass of wine and you’re out for the count.
That’s OK! It’s normal.
As we age, our body isn’t able to process or handle alcohol as well as it once did. It can take longer for your body to break down alcohol, causing more severe hangovers than when you were younger.
Tip: You can reduce your impending hangover by minimizing how much you drink (and don’t compare it to your university days).
4. Alcohol intolerance or Asian Flush
Alcohol contains lots of different ingredients, preservatives and additives that cause people to have negative reactions. In very rare cases, some people are even allergic to alcohol (although a true allergy is extremely uncommon). Typically, negative symptoms from alcohol points to alcohol intolerance (either to something within the drink) or Asian Flush (a genetic enzyme deficiency).
Some people who experience alcohol intolerance may struggle through a longer hangover than usual. This is because the body is reacting strongly to the alcohol and causes additional symptoms. So not only are you dealing with a hangover like everyone else, you're also dealing with something more intense.
Other symptoms of alcohol intolerance or Asian Flush can include:
- Red facial flushing
- Headaches or migraines
- Restricted or laboured breathing
Want to learn more? Make sure to read our article: “Sudden Alcohol Intolerance - Causes, Symptoms, Allergies & Risks"
Tip: Supplements like Sunset Alcohol Flush Support are designed specifically for reducing the symptoms of Asian Flush or alcohol intolerance. Sunset enables the user to drink alcohol more comfortably without being overwhelmed by negative symptoms, like headaches and flushing.
5. Drink choice
Not all drinks are equal, nor are their associated hangovers equal, either. Many people believe that a chemical called congeners (specifically those in darker liquors) are tied to longer hangovers. Drinks with more congeners like whiskey, red wine and brandy can potentially turn your usual hangover into a 2 day hangover.
Most people recommend sticking to lighter drinks with less congeners for less of a hangover - drinks like vodka and gin. It’s also believed that cheaper alcohol has more congeners, so it might be best to avoid the cheapest drink on the menu, too.
Tip: Pick clear alcohol and ideally not the cheapest option!
6. You’re on medication
Did you know that certain medications make hangovers much more severe? Now you know!
If you’re taking certain medications, your body may not be able to metabolize alcohol like it normally does. This could lead to getting drunk much easier than normal and thus an even worse hangover. Worse case scenario is you’ll end up with a two day hangover, rather than a usual one that typically lasts 24 hours.
Tip: Check with your doctor on whether your medications shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol, or whether it’s safe to drink while on them.
7. Hair of the dog
Most people have heard of the myth that the “hair of the dog” makes hangovers less intense. It’s not true!
Some people believe that drinking alcohol while hungover will actually make the hangover less severe. Unfortunately that’s not the case and will actually make you feel worse. Drinking too much alcohol while hungover is an easy-way to get a two day hangover! You're just dehydrating yourself even more.
Tip: Don’t continue drinking alcohol when you’re hungover - you’ll just turn it into a two day hangover!
8. Poor sleep quality
Alcohol usually has a two-prong reaction. At first, an alcoholic drink can make you feel really sleepy and relaxed. However after a few hours (typically when you’re asleep) you might bolt up wide awake. Even if you do sleep through the night, alcohol usually prevents you from sleeping in a deep stage of sleep. This means that although you were asleep, you don't get restful sleep like normal.
This interrupted sleep cycle results in you feeling tired and lethargic the following day. Of course, this makes feeling hungover 100 times worse!
What to learn more about alcohol and sleep? Check out our article: "Why does alcohol make you sleepy?"
Tip: Try not to drink alcohol right before bed so it won’t impact your sleep cycle as much.
9. Drinking on an empty stomach
Most people know that it's important not to eat on an empty stomach, but a lot of us forget! Although food doesn't "absorb" alcohol like a lot of people say, it does slow down the absorption of alcohol into the body.
This means that you'll get drunk slower and will allow your body to breakdown the alcohol at a good pace.
If you want to avoid a really long hangover, you need to make sure that you eat during (or before) drinking alcohol and during Day 1 of your hangover. Although there's no specific foods that will guarantee you won't get a hangover at all (or a two day hangover) eating is still important!
Tip: Remember to eat when drinking and eat when you're hungover.
10. Low blood sugar
Alcohol can disrupt your body’s natural levels of blood sugar. More alcohol can lead to a low blood sugar concentration, which is a big factor in feeling weak and fatigued during a hangover.
If your blood sugar is very low, this can exacerbate the problem and increase the likelihood of a longer hangover and overall feelings of fatigue.
Tip: If you have issues with blood sugar, make sure to keep an eye on your levels while drinking alcohol. Choosing less-sugary drinks can help, but won’t eliminate the problem.
Why do I get 2 day hangovers?
Experiencing a prolonged hangover can be caused by a variety of reasons, but can definitely be avoided. If you follow these tips and look after your health, hopefully you can avoid the dreaded 48 hour hangover!