The Secret to Surviving a Hangover

The Secret to Surviving a Hangover
Carly Jacobs

This is a guest post from the super awesome Jim at Mr and Mrs Romance. Follow him. He’s rad.

Dr Google has hundreds of hangover cures ready to prescribe, but do any of them really work? Are you really prepared to swallow four raw eggs when you’re already struggling to keep down last night’s kebab? I know I’m not.

Instead I’ve tried a more strategic approach. Sun Tzu in The Art of War said: “to know your enemy you must become your enemy.” I don’t know about all that, but in studying hangovers I’ve noticed they follow a pattern regardless of the quantity or quality of what you drank the night before.

Knowing what to expect seems to help me get through the worst of the pain.

The Four Stages of a Hangover

Man vomiting

[divider type=”thin” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]

Stage 1 – The Living Death

You wake up feeling like you’re about to die. Your eyes are bloodshot and your head’s thumping. You don’t want to move even though your bladder’s woken you up with that alarming pain that cannot be ignored. This stage can last from 30 minutes to a few hours.

[divider type=”thin” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]

Stage 2 – It’s Energiser Bunny Time!

You suddenly get a wave of unexpected energy! You feel awesome. You find yourself able to things that moments ago you thought were beyond you. Enjoy this time while it lasts. This stage has a maximum shelf life of about 2 hours so don’t waste it.

[divider type=”thin” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]

Stage 3 – The Downfall

From the heady heights of Stage 2, you’re suddenly thrust into the deepest despair. From here, Stage 1 feels like a lovely dream. The room spins, you get the beer sweats and whatever you were doing moments before in Stage 2 now causes your brain to go into total melt-down. This phase is annoyingly elusive. It could last 20 minutes or 8 hours and there’s no formula. Suck it up princess, you’re in for a rough ride.

[divider type=”thin” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]

Stage 4 – The Long Slow Climb to Normality

The first signs of Stage 4 is you become able to complete simple actions without hurting yourself. Brushing your teeth, for example, no longer results in you making yourself gag with the toothbrush. This may take some time but it’s the road to full recovery. Be brave – you can do it!

[divider type=”thin” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]

Usually all four stages will be completed within one 24 hour period with the victim reaching normality within their next full sleep cycle.

There are exceptions to this theory however.

If you wake up thinking – “I’m feeling pretty good but I’m not showing any signs of Stage 2… And I love you – you’re my best friend ever in the whole world!”

You’re still drunk. Wait for it – Stage 1 will catch up with you any minute. Drink lots of water!

If you wake up thinking – “I’ve got loads of energy and I’m raring to go.”

Either you’ve slept through your hangover (nice!) or you’re in Stage 2. Watch out! Stage 3’s on its way.

If you wake up thinking – “Feelings of clarity and brutal pain keep hitting me – like a Stage-2-Stage-3 Groundhog Day. What’s going on?!”

You’re having A Repeater. Stages 2 and 3 can sometimes repeat more than once before getting to Stage 4. Stick at it though – Stage 4 will come eventually or you’ll die. Either way you’ll get relief so really it’s win win.

Disclaimer: These stages don’t count if you’ve had to go to hospital.

The main secret to surviving a hangover is all in the education. Know your stages, recognise your symptoms and ride that wave like a champion.

Do you have any hangover super-cures that work for you? What do you usually do if you’re suffering from the Cocktail Flu?


  1. Vanessa 7 years ago

    Haha I’ve never had a hangover so I’m not sure! There was one time I may have had a hangover but I don’t know, it was also similar to occasional pains I can get due to sinus issues (dizziness etc), so hard to say if it was because of yummy yummy wine or just my head.
    Even if I’ve had a lot to drink, I eat something and drink a ton of water before bed, so maybe that prevents it?

    • Ha ha! I try hard never to blame alcohol, Vanessa. Poor little innocent alcohol. Especially when it comes in such a delicious array of drinks! You’re very lucky not to have ever had a hangover though. Very lucky indeed! Keep up the good work.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      If you have a hangover, you know you have a hangover. 🙂

  2. Bec 7 years ago

    The worst kind of hangovers I get have no stages, except for the ‘vomit every 20 minutes until 5pm the next day’ stage. Seriously, I’m talking vomiting 15-20 times. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
    Unless I get to the hospital and beg them to give me their super strength nausea knockout pill.

    Needless to say I’ve cut back on the drinking.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh my god that sounds horrendous! I’ve only ever had that once and it was after a wedding. I’d eaten nothing but salad for months to lose weight and then the waiters kept filling my glass and I lost count. I spewed for 24 hours straight and just cried. I was so sick. 🙁

  3. veggie mama 7 years ago


  4. My biggest secret is BEFORE you crash into bed, pop 2 Nurofen and drink as much water as you can manage. The next day, 2pm is always my magic window. It’s when I start to come good and can slam down a chicken burger, hot chips and Coke no worries. Then, it’s back on the horse. The best part about Night 2? You don’t get anywhere near as smashed as Night 1.

  5. Claire Chadwick 7 years ago

    My husband swears by downing another alcoholic beverage the next day to boot a hangover….but I’m usually too gaggy to even consider it. I saw a documentary on TV recently where a man tried and tested all suggested hangover cures, and after months of suffering {all for the sake of research of course} it was proven that the ONLY way to truly kick a hangover instantly, is to get a saline/water IV drip at a hospital/doctor. Within minutes of the IV he said he felt better than he ever had – which was pretty cool considering he was deathly ill only 30mins prior. Now….where to get an IV drip for home?? Haaa!
    Great post Jim!

    • Caitlyn 7 years ago

      Oh man you just made me flash back to episodes of M.A.S.H. – Hawkeye would hook himself up to a saline I.V. to cure his hangovers. Don’t mind me – it’s my all time favorite show!

Leave a Reply