Is coffee good for a hangover? It’s the first drink that most of us reach for in the morning after a big night out.
Waking up feeling like death and instantly regretting the tequila shots from last night is somewhere we’ve all been. And coffee is seen as an instant pick-me-up to help give you a boost of energy and improve mental alertness.
But is coffee actually good for a hangover, or does it make things worse?
In this article, we’re first going to take a closer look at how coffee affects your body. Then we’ll see if coffee is good for a hangover or not.
How does caffeine affect the body?
Before we get into whether coffee is good for a hangover, we first need to go over how caffeine works.
Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is a chemical messenger that sends your brain into a state of calm and relaxation in order to prepare you for a night of sleep.(1)
Therefore, blocking adenosine receptors has the opposite effect. Essentially kickstarting your brain to start firing on all cylinders again.
Is coffee good for a hangover?
So, now on to the all-important question, is coffee good for a hangover?
The simple answer is yes and no as it has a few positives and negatives that you may want to consider.
Firstly, we’re going to cover all the ways coffee can be good for a hangover before exploring some of the negatives.
1) Makes you more alert
Drinking and hangovers are associated with late nights which leaves your brain in second gear.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and the most obvious effect it has on your body is keeping your mind awake.
2) Improves mental alertness
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.(2)
3) Increased muscle strength
Caffeine is one of the main ingredients in sports drinks and pre-workout supplements for good reason. In the short term, It’s known to increase muscle strength and endurance.
Waking up after a night of drinking can leave you feeling tired and without energy.
Need something to help you bounce back after drinking?*
Can coffee make hangovers worse?
Now that we’ve covered all the ways in which coffee can be good for a hangover, we’ll highlight some of its negative effects.
1) Increases heart rate
You may have noticed that your heart is beating faster in the morning if you’ve been drinking more than your limits the night before.
The reason is, drinking too much alcohol can leave you dehydrated which increases your heart rate.
As a stimulant, coffee also increases your heart rate. Therefore, if you’re already running a fast heart rate in the morning, coffee can push this even higher.
2) Caffeine is a diuretic
Caffeine, like alcohol, is a diuretic which means it makes your kidneys flush out more water.
You’ll already be dehydrated when hungover. And drinking coffee can potentially exacerbate dehydration.
3) Worsens “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.
4) Irritability and hangover anxiety
Hangover anxiety is a real problem for many people which is thought to be caused by alcohol’s “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. As a result, this causes over-stimulation of the nervous system which can leave you feeling on-edge.
In combination with an increased heart rate, the rebound effect can contribute to hangover anxiety.
In summary, although coffee can be good for keeping you more awake when hungover, it can also make some symptoms worse.
Is coffee good for hangover nausea?
There are many causes of hangover nausea including the buildup of toxins from the metabolism of alcohol, inflammation of your stomach lining and increased stomach acid production to name a few.
Caffeine is not a treatment for nausea and so drinking coffee is unlikely to help with hangover nausea.
Is coffee good for hangover headache?
Hangover headache is arguably one of the most annoying symptoms of a hangover.
Once again, caffeine is not known to help with headache. In fact, in some people, it’s a trigger for headache and migraines.(3)
The pro’s and con’s of drinking coffee for a hangover
Caffeine has several short term positive effects when hungover. On the other hand, it can also have some negative side effects when hungover which you should be aware of.
Ultimately, it depends on your personal circumstances and what you’re trying to achieve.
If you have an important business meeting and need to stay awake, then clearly coffee can help.
On the other hand, if you’re at home having a lazy day when hungover, the negatives of drinking coffee for a hangover probably don’t outweigh the benefits.
Can coffee clear alcohol and toxins from your bloodstream faster?
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, research has shown that caffeine has no effect on speeding up alcohol metabolism whatsoever.
So if you think coffee will sober you up in the morning, think again!
Coffee does not increase alcohol metabolism or sober you up more quickly.
Anything else to consider?
Hangovers are a sign from your body that you’ve been drinking too much alcohol for your liver to handle. Trying to remedy your hangover symptoms with coffee is the wrong approach.
Whether coffee is good for a hangover or not won’t matter if you’re able to prevent getting one in the first place.
Drinking less alcohol, eating before going out, and keeping well hydrated is usually all it takes to prevent a bad hangover.
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 in energy for a short period of time. However, it also comes with side effects that may not be worth it.
One thing’s for sure, coffee is definitely not a hangover cure. So if you’re expecting it to treat your other hangover symptoms like nausea and headache, it’s not going to work.
If you’re interested in other drinks that may be good for hangovers, check out our article on the best tea for a hangover.