The Hangover Dehydration Myth

If you’ve ever suffered from a hangover, the pounding headache, facial pressure, sensitivity to lights and loud noises will be familiar. Most people will also have a very dry, raw throat, and this is usually blamed on dehydration that’s caused by drinking too much alcohol. As far as I know, there’s no scientific proof that drinking alcohol causes significant dehydration. 


Furthermore, notice that many of the features of a hangover, which usually happen only after waking from sleep after drinking too much, resemble the same symptoms when someone suffers from a migraine headache: pounding headache, nasal and sinus pressure and congestion, light and sound sensitivity, lightheadedness and imbalance, brain fog, and nausea.


Interestingly, there’s another condition that give you headaches when you wake up in the morning: obstructive sleep apnea. Not too surprisingly, you’ll have a pounding headache, sinus pain and pressure, light and sound sensitivity, and mild nausea, and brain fog. Numerous studies clearly document that alcohol can worsen or uncover obstructive sleep apnea. 


This is not too surprising, since alcohol is a strong muscle relaxant, causing your throat muscles to collapse and obstruct your breathing every time you go into deep sleep. When your throat obstructs, you’ll create a vacuum effect in your throat, which literally suctions up your normal stomach juices into your throat. This is why your throat is so dry and sore in the morning during a hangover. Not getting any deep sleep will give you pounding headaches, nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and brain fog. 


This process also explains why some people are less susceptible to hangovers, no matter how much thy drink. If your throat anatomy is wide to begin with, muscle relaxation and collapse won’t progress to the point of obstruction and arousals as often. 


What’s your take on hangovers? Please enter your opinion below in the comments box.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 thoughts on “The Hangover Dehydration Myth

  1. I gave up drinking because of the bad hangovers. Dr. Park, I am afraid you are encouraging me to take it up again since I now use CPAP. :)

    On another subject, I used to travel regularly from the U.S. to Europe, Asia and South America. I could not understand why jet log bothered me so badly and an associate who traveled with me was always fresh at breakfast and lively until late at night. I guess it was undiagnosed sleep apnea and not jet lag that was giving me the problems.

    BTW, that associate has a wide jaw and an advanced mandible.

  2. Interesting points. I think that taking a multivitamin and drinking dehydration drinks before drinking (like powerade ect), lessen your hangover the next day.

    What is your take on supplements that offer a less hangover or cure a hangover quicker?