Hangovers are not well understood. In fact, scientists still continue to debate the actual cause of a hangover. But there are a few things that are fully accepted.

  1. Hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol
  2. Hangovers are not caused by a single factor – rather, a combination of factors including dehydration, personal factors, inflammation, and sleep disturbance.

Nevertheless, we all experience hangovers differently. In most cases, hangovers last up to 24 hours, but for some of us, it can take days. So what determines how long a hangover lasts?

How does alcohol affect the body?

Drinking too much or binge drinking on a single occasion or over time can take a serious toll on your health These are a few specific ways in which alcohol can impact different parts of your body.


  • Neurological function. Alcohol can reduce communication between your brain and your body. This makes coordination more difficult and disrupts memory function and balance.
  • Muscle pain. Drinking alcohol may lead to cellular inflammation and generalized body aches and pains.
  • Metabolism issues. Drinking can inflame the cells in your gastrointestinal tract and disrupt your normal hormonal pathways.
  • Reduced immunity. Drinking heavily has been shown to reduce your immunity in studies.

How long do most hangovers last?

Studies show that hangovers generally last for about 14 to 23 hours, with some extending up to about the 72-hour mark. But on average, a hangover should end about 12 hours after stopping drinking.

So what factors can make hangovers worse than usual?

1. You didn’t drink enough water.

Alcohol is a diuretic that makes you lose too much water. Hence why you go to the toilet so often after a few drinks. That’s why it’s essential to keep well hydrated when hungover.


2. You haven’t had enough sleep.

The more you drink, the worse you sleep, and then, the worse you feel the day after. The reason is, alcohol stops your brain from reaching the REM stage of sleep. That means your sleep is light and easily disturbed.

3. You drank dark-colored alcohol

Congeners are flavoring agents or byproducts of fermentation in booze, and they are linked to hangovers. They make your drinks tasty, but make hangovers a lot worse.

Stay clear to keep yourself in the clear: Liquors linked to worse next-day pain include whiskey, rum, red wine, and brandy.

4. You’re getting older

If you’re 21, your ability to detoxify alcohol is different than if you’re 50.  As we get older, metabolism and liver function declines which is an unfortunate, but natural, part of aging.

5. You drank on an empty stomach.

Alcohol can irritate the lining of your stomach, which can make any hangover-induced nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting worse, says Boris. Alcohol is also absorbed much faster into your bloodstream with an empty stomach which can cause big fluctuations in your blood alcohol levels.

Are there any hangover treatments that work?

Unfortunately, because experts don’t fully understand hangovers and what causes them just yet, it’s pretty tough to develop hangover cures. There are no real treatments or cures for a hangover. But there are certain things you can do to support recovery.

  • Eat breakfast. Eating a good hearty and filling breakfast can help maintain your blood sugar levels, provide important vitamins and minerals, and reduce the symptoms of a hangover.
  • Consider hangover supplements. Hangover prevention products are packed with ingredients that potentially support recovery. Ingredients like prickly pear, ginseng, and L-cysteine have been shown in small studies to reduce hangover severity if taken soon after drinking alcohol. Hangover pills combine these ingredients together in an easy-to-take capsule.
  • Rest up. Alcohol consumption may interfere with sleep, and a lack of sound sleep can contribute to hangover symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and headaches. Getting rest is very important if you’re experiencing a hangover.
  • Drink water. Drinking alcohol can cause dehydration, which may make some hangover symptoms worse. Staying hydrated with fluids may reduce hangover symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache, and dizziness.