IYKYK: Hangovers from a fun drag brunch (with maybe a few too many good deals on drinks) or a tailgate in the hot back-to-school sun just seem…worse than usual, no? That’s honestly because sometimes they are, for quite a few reasons. "Most of these reasons have to do with hydration," says internal medicine physician Arielle Levitan, MD, author of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health and co-founder of Vous Vitamin.
For starters, according to Dr. Leitan, alcohol dehydrates you quite quickly in general—and to add insult to injury, day drinking typically happens on hot, sunny days in which folks are already at risk of dehydration. The other reason is that day drinking typically lasts way longer than a night out. Sometimes people drink at the pace that they would at an evening event without realizing they might be at the beach or a game for two to four times as long. Spending all day at the beach where there are drinks, attending a sports game with a cold beer, or visiting a winery on a sunny Saturday for a bachelorette party— all of these events involve a lot of sunshine, a whole day affair, walking around, long commutes, or all of the above. "This is why day drinking can sometimes wipe people out way more than some glasses of wine over a dinner," Dr. Levitan says. "Cooler temps and sitting coupled with intentions of going to bed soon after your alcohol consumption won't deplete your body nearly as much as when factors like like sun, swimming, sightseeing, or commuting home from a game are included."
Additionally, as we already know, alcohol impairs your motor skills and thinking. "Another risk of day drinking is that you’re less aware and in control of your body which can often cause injuries. Of course, the severity runs the gambit between sprained ankles to car accidents," Dr. Levitan says. "As far as more mild injuries go, they’re simply more likely to occur after day drinking because people sometimes want to maximize their day and continue doing things."
TL; DR? The cards are definitely stacked against you when you’re daytime drinking, but there are a lot of ways to set yourself up for a less painful time the next morning. So, how do you prepare for day drinking so that you can have the most fun and feel your best later on? Read on.
How to prepare for a day drinking event so it ends (relatively) well
1. Stay on top of your hydration levels well before your day drinking event
“To prepare for day drinking, I would suggest hydrating vigorously, and starting—seriously—a few days prior,” says Dr. Levitan. "I would recommend both fluids and, if possible, electrolyte supplements."
Another key reason to stay hydrated is that it’s easier to maintain hydration than realize you’re low on fluids after it's too late and then try to make up for them during your day-drinking event, says Andrea Paul, MD, physician and medical advisor to Illuminate Labs. "The ethanol in alcohol that causes you to become inebriated is also a diuretic, which means that it causes you to pee out more fluids than usual," Dr. Paul says. This aspect makes alcohol more dehydrating. You want to enter your day of fun prepared, so staying on top of your 60 to 80 ounces water is a great way to prepare.
2. Pack electrolyte-restoring drinks, tablets, or mixes
"One important thing to remember about hydration is that it’s not just about water: Electrolytes are important too," Dr. Levitan says. "You will often lose a lot of electrolytes and important minerals when you’re out in the sun and drinking." This is why people can realize they’re dehydrated, promptly drink tons of water, and still not feel much better. To prevent this undesirable scenario, she recommends consistently hydrating leading up to your event and continuing to do so throughout the duration.
3. Eat before you start day drinking—and wear sunscreen
"A big mistake people make, especially when drinking during the day, is not eating enough prior to alcohol consumption," says Dr. Paul. "Eating a meal with a good balance of carbs, fats, and protein is very helpful in allowing for more even alcohol absorption and less of a chance of toxicity or negative effects." It is also important to have proper sun protection (sunscreen, hat, loose but covering clothes), as this will help prevent additional side effects from sunburn or overheating.
4. Plan to drink less than you think you can handle
According to Dr. Levitan, being more modest about your alcohol consumption throughout any given event is an important part of hangover prevention. "In part, this is because people often consume more over the course of a day than they might in a night. But sugary drinks can often cause hangovers easily because they mask the strength of the alcohol you’re consuming," she says.
Not drinking any (or enough) water and then suddenly pounding it when you’re feeling buzzed is often the cause for feeling nauseous and throwing up, Dr. Levitan adds. "Vomiting is a huge dehydrator, so you want to avoid this as much as possible by not drinking too much and not suddenly chugging water to make up for your lost fluids."
5. Remember to use caution
Again, injuries occur more frequently during day drinking because you are likely more active than when you go out to a bar or restaurant at night. It’s always important to use caution when drinking, but this is especially true in hot sunny environments or around bodies of water. Of course, never drive drunk or operate machinery if you’ve been consuming alcohol.
All in all, it’s possible to enjoy day drinking without spending the rest of your weekend recovering from going way too hard. It’s easy to lose track of time and the number of drinks you’ve had when you’re in a stimulating environment like the beach for a long time. Staying hydrated, pacing yourself, eating regularly, and bringing electrolytes sources with you can all help you feel your best while having fun.
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