Is Coffee Good For a Hangover?

Is Coffee Good For a Hangover?

Kathy Caldwell

Is coffee good for a hangover? It’s the first drink that everyone goes for when hungover.

Whether you’re late to work after a few too many at happy hour the night before or struggling with your hangover on the weekend, coffee is seen as a savior.

But is coffee actually good for a hangover, or does it make things worse?

In this article, we’re going to explore everything there is to know about coffee for hangovers based on science and research to see whether it’s any good.

Symptoms and causes of a hangover

To see if coffee is good for a hangover, we first need to go over how alcohol affects your body in the first place.

Firstly, alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you produce more urine. It does this by blocking a hormone being produced from your brain called ADH (antidiuretic hormone). This results in excess loss of water and therefore dehydration.

Secondly, alcohol is broken down by your liver to produce toxic waste products that are harmful to your body such as acetaldehyde. It’s a highly volatile substance that reacts with the cells it comes into contact with causing inflammation.

Thirdly, your drinks contain a certain number of toxic substances called congeners which are known to worsen hangover symptoms. Darker colored drinks like whiskey and red wine have lots of congeners, hence they give the worst hangovers.

The combination of these damaging processes leads to:

  • Dehydration
  • Faster heart rate
  • The shakes
  • Headahce
  • Nausea

Next up, we’ll go over how the caffeine in your coffee affects your body and whether it’s good for hangovers.

Is coffee good for a hangover?

We all know that caffeine is a stimulant. It works in several different ways by increasing your heart rate, alertness, and energy levels.

It’s the obvious thing to reach for when you’re feeling hungover to kick start your day. Firstly, we’re going to cover all the ways coffee can be good for a hangover before exploring some of its side-effects.

Counteracts tiredness:

Caffeine blocks a neurotransmitter called adenosine. Adenosine is what induces a sense of calm and relaxation in your brain and helps switch off your mind to fall asleep.

Drinking and hangovers are often associated with late nights which undoubtedly leave your brain in second gear. Therefore, blocking adenosine has the opposite effect. Your nervous system is fired into action making you more alert and awake.

Cognitive ability:
Aside from the fact that coffee makes you less sleepy, it also has the added benefit of improving various aspects of your cognitive ability. Several studies have shown how caffeine improves alertness and reaction times to help you be more focused.

Muscle strength:
Caffeine is one of the main ingredients in several sports drinks and pre-workouts for good reason. In the short term, It’s known to increase muscle strength and endurance.(1)

Waking up after a night of drinking can leave you feeling tired and without energy. We drink coffee for hangovers to counteract these effects and even without the scientific evidence, we all know it works for this.

Less is known about caffeine’s negative effects in the context of hangovers and this is what we are going to cover next

Are there any negatives?

Now that we’ve covered all the ways in which coffee can be good for a hangover, we’ll highlight all its negative effects.

Heart rate:
As a stimulant, coffee increases your heart rate. Alcohol itself can raise your heart rate and these effects continue through to your hangover. Making your heart pump faster than it’s already going isn’t ideal.

Caffeine, like alcohol, is a diuretic which means it makes your kidneys flush out more water. As a result, this can leave you more dehydrated.(2)

Hangover shakes:
Aside from caffeine’s stimulant effect on your heart, it can also make you feel more jittery and on-edge. If you’re someone who gets hangover shakes after drinking alcohol, caffeine is likely to make this worse.

Irritability and hangover anxiety:
Hangover anxiety is a real problem for many people which is thought to be caused by alcohols “rebound effect”. In simple terms, alcohol suppresses the nervous system and as soon as it leaves your system, your nervous system snaps back into action causing over-stimulation. In combination with increased heart rate and worsening shakes, the rebound effect can contribute to hangover anxiety.

Coffee can exacerbate many of the symptoms of a hangover.

Is coffee good for hangover nausea?

The causes of hangover nausea include the buildup of toxins from the metabolism of alcohol, irritation, and inflammation of your stomach lining and increased stomach acid production.

Coffee is known to increase stomach acid production. It’s one of the first things your doctor recommends to cut down on if you suffer from reflux.

Therefore, coffee can worsen symptoms of hangover nausea and leave your stomach feeling uneasy.

Is coffee good for hangover headache?

Hangover headache is arguably one of the most annoying symptoms of a hangover.

It’s caused by many different factors including dehydration and inflammation caused by alcohols toxic by-products.

In addition, the congeners in darker colored drinks can stimulate the release of histamine.

Overall, this causes blood vessels in the brain to dilate which is one of the theories behind headaches. It’s particularly the case with migraine-type headaches.

Coffee is a known trigger for headaches and migraine in many people and is best avoided if this applies to you.

Should I drink coffee if I have a hangover?

Is coffee good for hangovers infographic

Caffeine has several short term positive effects when hungover. We’ve also highlighted some negative side-effects which make things worse.

It all depends on personal preference and your own circumstances, However, overall, the negative effects of drinking coffee for a hangover outweigh the positives.

The reason is, the positive effects are short-lived and followed by the inevitable caffeine crash. It’s true that coffee will make you feel more alert and less tired for a short period of time by acting as a temporary energy booster.

But the negative side-effects of drinking coffee for a hangover will continue to have an impact on your hydration levels and unsettled nervous system.

So even though reaching for a cup of coffee when hungover may seem like the logical first step, its negative effects may not be worth the short term gains.

Can coffee clear alcohol and toxins from your bloodstream faster?

If you’ve had a few too many drinks the night before, chances are you’ll have some alcohol left in your bloodstream. This is because your liver only metabolizes around 1-2 units of alcohol per hour (1 unit is equivalent to 1 shot of a strong spirit like vodka).

Therefore, if you’ve had five, double vodka sodas plus a few beers and only slept 6 hours, you’ll definitely have some alcohol left in your system.

Some people drink coffee with the belief that it helps clear alcohol and toxins from your body. Coffee is known to boost fat metabolism and it is sometimes assumed that it can do the same for alcohol.

However, so far research has been inconclusive with respect to this and coffee has not been shown to increase the metabolism of alcohol.

So if you think coffee will sober you up in the morning, think again, especially if you’ve had a big night out.

Coffee does not increase alcohol metabolism or sober you up more quickly.

Is coffee good for hangovers – Final verdict

That brings us to the end of our look into whether coffee is good for a hangover.

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal choice. coffee gives you a quick boost for a short period of time. For example, it may be useful if you’ve got an important meeting to attend in the morning.

It’s important to note that this short-lived caffeine hit in the morning only delays the inevitable crash that follows.

In addition, coffee can have additional side-effects which can make your hangover symptoms worse.

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This product does not prevent intoxication or protect against alcohol related damage that may be caused by excessive or long term drinking. AfterDrink is not a Hangover cure. The only way to reliably prevent a hangover is to drink in moderation and within recommended limits. Hangovers are usually caused by drinking too much in a short period of time. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions including food allergies, it is best to consult your doctor before taking food supplements.

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