Coffee has long been a go-to for curing hangovers, but there’s little evidence that it actually does anything to combat the effects of alcohol. In fact, there’s no evidence. You may still want to have your morning cup of joe after a night of drinking, though. Here’s a look at the effects coffee has on people recovering from hangovers.
Coffee Won’t Sober You Up
Coffee will not sober you up. Whether you’re downing shots of espresso right after bottles of beer or having a cold-brew the next morning, the compounds in coffee won’t prevent or slow down the effects of alcohol. The molecules in coffee, adenosine, adrenaline and caffeine may increase your alertness, as we discussed in our post “Three Ways That Caffeine Affects Your Brain,” but they don’t interact with the same receptors that alcohol affects. After enough coffee you’ll be more awake, but you won’t be any more ready to drive.
Caffeine May Avoid a Withdrawal Headache
If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you may have a mild caffeine addiction. Should you skip your morning coffee, withdrawal symptoms may make your hangover worse. The headache you already have from drinking could become more severe if you don’t have at least a little caffeine.
The only way coffee helps a hangover is by preventing caffeine withdrawal from making it worse. In this situation, though, coffee’s not alleviating the hangover symptoms. It’s simply preventing other symptoms from developing that would compound the present ones.
Coffee Could Make Your Headache Worse
Drinking coffee could make your headache worse. The caffeine that you might need to prevent to stay a withdrawal headache would also intensify your hangover headache. Caffeine narrows blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. If your head is already pounding, this would make the pounding worse.
Additionally, coffee is a diuretic, so it’s easy to become dehydrated. This further narrows your
blood vessels, increasing your blood pressure even more. The consequence of these two factors could turn a mild hangover headache that’s like the tap-tap of a snare drum into deep booms from a base drum.
The best solution for coffee drinkers
You likely need at least some coffee to prevent a withdrawal headache from setting in, but drinking coffee will increase your blood pressure and make the headache from drinking last night worse. What should you do?
A hangover presents a catch-22 for coffee drinkers.
The best solution is often to go back to sleep, if you’re able to. If you can’t just sleep the morning away, try drinking a little coffee with plenty of water. You might:
- Drink a full glass of water immediately after waking up
- Have a little coffee, perhaps half a cup
- Drink another glass of water
- Wait 30 to 60 minutes before having more coffee
- If you’re feeling a little better, have another half-cup of coffee
- Continue drinking copious amounts of water
These steps seek to prevent a caffeine-withdrawal headache, while also keeping your blood pressure from rising. By drinking plenty of water and minimizing your coffee intake, you’ll keep your blood vessels dilated and blood pressure low. After a little while, you should start to feel normal again and be able to catch up on your daily coffee habit.
Look Forward to Coffee on Another Morning
Although you shouldn’t have too much coffee after a night of drinking, there’s no reason why you can’t look forward to a morning when you can have all the coffee you want. If you’re trying to recover from a hangover, why not see what our current offerings are? Perhaps you’ll find one you want to try when you’re feeling better.