man having a headache

Is There Such a Thing as a Delayed Hangover? 

After an evening of drinking, many dread the impending hangover waiting for them the next day. Hangover severity can vary from person to person based on tolerance levels, how much is consumed, how frequently alcohol is consumed, and your natural predisposition for hangovers in general.

While hangover symptoms are there to greet most people the moment they wake up, there is one little-known type of hangover that does not follow the same timing. This kind is appropriately known as a delayed hangover.

What is a delayed hangover?

Delayed hangovers present with many of the same symptoms as normal ones. The most common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
man sitting and rubbing his eyes

What sets a delayed hangover apart is the time in which it occurs. While normal hangovers happen upon waking, delayed hangovers may not occur until several hours after you have woken up.

The severity of symptoms may be more intense than a conventional hangover. For many, the hours leading up to a delayed hangover can feel normal, making it jarring and unexpected when it appears.

Delayed hangovers can happen to anybody, even those that have never experienced one before or commonly. This can make an already uncomfortable situation very inconvenient, leading to frustration and wasted time.

What causes a delayed hangover?

As with traditional hangovers, it is related to alcohol consumption and your propensity to present with hangover symptoms. It’s important to point out that delayed hangovers do not occur because you have consumed a high amount of alcohol. It can even occur when drinking very little.

Why Might a Hangover be Delayed?

The most likely cause of a delayed hangover is that there is still alcohol in your system when you wake up in the morning.

Hangover symptoms occur when your blood alcohol level (BAC) reaches zero, so if there is still alcohol in your body when you wake up, your symptoms will likely start once there is no more alcohol in your system.

Additionally, some hangover symptoms may not be directly tied to the alcohol itself: fatigue, for example, if you didn’t book enough hours to sleep, or muscle aches if you did a lengthy pub crawl or spent a lot of time dancing during a night out.

The Impact of Individual Metabolism Rates on Alcohol Processing

Everyone’s body is different and processes alcohol at different rates. Some people can experience a hangover after one drink, while others do not experience hangovers at all. On average, however, most individuals can expect their body to process approximately one drink per hour.1

The rate at which your body processes alcohol may impact when your hangover occurs or how severe it is. This rate can be impacted by age, sex, genetics, and other factors. Additionally, genetic variants in the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which is responsible for helping break down alcohol, can speed up or slow down the process.

Influence of Hydration Levels, Diet, and Sleep

Hydration, diet, and sleep all play a role in the severity and duration of your hangover, regardless of when it starts. The sooner you take steps to rehydrate your body and replenish nutrient levels, the less likely you are to experience severe hangover symptoms.

Staying hydrated is the most important thing you can do to avoid a hangover.

  • Hydrate before you go and drink water throughout the night. Ideally, drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.
  • Space your alcohol out and pace yourself. Your body can process approximately one alcoholic beverage per hour.
  • Drinking more than one per hour increases your chance of developing hangover symptoms.
  • Once you get home, make sure to have more water before bed.
A woman drinking from a glass of water

What and when you eat can help you avoid unwanted hangover symptoms.

  • Make sure to eat before you start drinking to avoid putting alcohol on an empty stomach.
  • Consider snacking throughout the night and/or eating before bed to help restore vitamins and minerals lost due to frequent urination.
  • Although tempting, avoid greasy foods such as pizza and nachos, as these can irritate your stomach and cause inflammation.
  • Choosing nutritious, carb-forward food can help prevent hangovers or limit the severity of symptoms.

Sleep quality can also affect you you feel when you wake up in the morning.

  • Although it’s tempting to get into bed and pass out still drunk, stopping alcohol consumption at least one to two hours before bed and drinking plenty of water can help you get a better night of sleep.
  • Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but it can negatively impact the duration and quality of both deep and REM sleep.
  • Giving your body the opportunity to rest and recover can minimize unwanted symptoms.

Other Potential Factors Contributing to Delayed Hangovers

In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are a few other potential contributors to delayed hangovers.

  • If you start to sober up but continue drinking before your blood alcohol level reaches zero.
  • If you drink alcohol to prevent symptoms (eg. ‘hair of the dog’).
  • Certain medications, such as Antabuse (disulfiram), can slow down alcohol metabolism and delay the onset of your hangover.2

How to Recognize a Delayed Hangover

If you wake up after a big night of drinking without symptoms, then start feeling hungover in the middle of the day, a delayed hangover is likely the culprit.

Common Symptoms of a Delayed Hangover

Symptoms of a delayed hangover are much the same as a standard hangover and may include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Body and muscle aches

Symptoms of delayed hangovers can be treated the same way as standard versions – with rest, plenty of water, nutritious food, and over-the-counter medications to provide relief from headaches, nausea, and body aches.

Are There Differences Between Regular and Delayed Hangovers?

The main difference between standard and delayed hangovers is when symptoms begin. Delayed hangovers may not start until several hours after you have woken up.

How to treat or reduce delayed hangover symptoms

As with other forms of hangovers, addressing the deficiencies in the body due to drinking alcohol is key. Drinking water will help address symptoms related to dehydration. Taking in electrolytes and nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin B-12 will aid in your body’s ability to recover more quickly.

However, those suffering from a delayed hangover may need something more effective and fast-acting than traditional remedies. It’s likely that many of them are well into their day, either at work or running errands. Rather than feel like they are in the middle of an ocean without a paddle, many are utilizing IV hydration and hangover therapy to get them back on their feet quickly.

Symptoms of nausea and possible vomiting may make drinking large amounts of water and swallowing pills uncomfortable, impractical, or impossible. There’s heavy debate about your body’s ability to digest and metabolize oral supplements anyways.

woman holding her head, an empty bottle of wine beside her

Hangover IV treatment injects fluids and essential vitamins directly into your bloodstream so your body can use them immediately. This may dramatically increase recovery time, getting you back to work. Adding convenience to effectiveness, many people choose mobile IV therapy, where a medical professional comes to your home or place of work to administer your treatment. For busy people, this is the best option.

While delayed hangovers can happen at any time, properly preparing a treatment game plan will put you in the best possible position to recover quickly and get back to your life.

Last Words

Whether they occur first thing in the morning or are delayed until past lunch, hangovers are never pleasant. Fortunately, they are highly preventable. Taking steps such as drinking water, eating nutritious food, and getting plenty of quality sleep can help you feel refreshed in the morning.

If you are dealing with a delayed hangover and need relief from symptoms fast, consider getting an IV infusion. Treatments can help rehydrate your body, restore low levels of key vitamins, and alleviate symptoms with anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea medications.

Get Your Hangover IV

Recover from a big night out with our hangover IV. This treatment helps relieve hangover symptoms by rehydrating, restoring, and replenishing your body. Infusions take less than an hour and are administered by one of our licensed nurses.

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Hangover IV - Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in our hangover IV?

Our Hangover IV treatment contains a blend of IV fluids, electrolytes, vitamins and medication to restore the vitamins in your body and help your body battle with the unwanted hangover symptoms. Among the main ingredients are B-Complex vitamins, Vitamin B12, Toradol and Anti-Nausea medication. 

Why is hangover IV much more effective than hangover drinks?

Hangover IV is more effective than hangover drinks because the IV solution is introduced directly into your blood without having to go through the digestive system which is already overloaded. This means you will feel the effects much faster and feel much better very quickly. 

How long does it take for our Hangover IV to start working?

It usually takes between 30-60 minutes for you to feel the benefits of our Hangover IV drip.

What are the levels of hangover severity?

IV therapy in general is FDA approved. Our nurses are overseen by our Medical Director, Abe Malkin, and every nurse is registered and certified per state standards.

Read more: Hangover IV FAQ