Sometimes the pangs of regret and hangover-induced anxiety of a night spent drinking too much and shooting Roman candles at your neighbor’s kids don’t wait for the morning to set in. In fact, the moment you get back home, you might find yourself wondering if it’s possible to sober up before bed. You can’t go back in time and slap that second boilermaker out of your hand, but maybe, just maybe there’s a special elixir that’ll have you feeling right as rain before climbing under the covers.
“First and foremost, it’s not very healthy for a person to go to bed drunk,” begins Krista Elkins, a paramedic and critical care registered nurse of 20 years. “This prevents the body from doing important things like cell repair while a person is sleeping, because it’s tied up doing nothing but alcohol metabolism instead.”
“Drinking caffeine or eating food might make you feel less drunk, but again, the only real way to sober up is time,” Elkins continues. “Because it takes time for the liver to metabolize the alcohol in your system and eliminate it from the body.”
While it’s impossible to magically “sober up” before bed, there are a few proactive measures you can take to mitigate the next day’s pain and suffering. Per Ryan Aycock, an emergency physician in Florida, the best way to avoid a hangover is to drink plenty of water during your night out. But if that ship has sailed, you should hydrate as much as you can before going to sleep.
“Next, you may want to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen,” he explains, citing two studies that suggest such medications taken after a night of drinking can help alleviate symptoms of a hangover.
Finally, although you’ve essentially thrown any chance at a good night’s sleep out the window, Aycock suggests you do everything you can to recoup some quality ZZZs. “Falling asleep quickly may occur due to the depressant effects of ethanol, but you’re more likely to wake up a few hours later, rather than get a full night’s sleep,” he explains. “So sleep hygiene, such as going to bed at the same time you usually do, turning down the room’s temperature, taking a warm bath beforehand, etc., may help.”
Sadly, however, as Elkins tells me, “There really is no scientifically proven way to sober up right before bed.” No matter what you eat, how much coffee you chug, how long you exercise, how many cold showers you take or which newfangled all-natural electrolyte elixirs you boof, achieving a quickened sobriety is just not going to happen.
And so, the only thing left to do now is get in your PJs, pop some ibuprofen, turn the lights down, sip on a big ol’ jug of water and wait.