Food has long been thought to help a person sober up after a long night of drinking. You may have heard in college that eating something greasy like a burger and fries before bed could help you to sober up so that the next morning isn’t as rough.
However, it’s been questioned whether or not food can actually sober a person up in a short amount of time. Many examples of ways to sober up have been spread throughout different communities, but not all of them are true.
The only thing that can actually sober a person up is time. You have to wait out your drunkenness and let the amount of alcohol in your blood lessen on its own.
Keep reading to learn more about the different myths about sobering up and how to prepare your body when drinking.
Fact or Myth: Food Sobers You Up
Unfortunately, food will not sober you up how you think it will. It will not absorb the alcohol in your body and get you back to feeling sober in a short amount of time.
You may be out of luck if you need to sober up fast. The only way to feel like you’ve sobered up is by allowing time to pass and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to return to normal.
This is the same for drinking water or taking a cold shower while intoxicated. While both can help you to feel hydrated and more alert, unless your BAC levels are below the legal limit, you are not considered sober.
People may associate eating food with sobering up because it can limit how bad your hangover is the next day. For every drink you have, your body will take roughly one full hour to metabolize it, so you do the math!
Time Is the Only Healing Factor
The only thing that can truly sober you up is time. You have to wait an hour for every drink you have before you can say that you’re actually sober. So if you’ve had five drinks, it may take five full hours until your BAC is below the legal limit.
You have to allow your body to process the alcohol on its own, and if you continue to drink at a rate faster than your body can handle, the feelings of drunkenness do not go away. The following table shows how quickly you sober up after a few drinks.
Your body processes about .015% of alcohol an hour, so depending on your BAC when you go to sleep, it could be several hours before you are back to normal functioning. Even if you’re in bed by midnight, you may still be considered over the legal limit when you get up for work the next day.
It would take over 12 hours for you to be considered sober again.
How Does Alcohol Affect Your Body?
Alcohol enters your bloodstream and takes effect in only minutes. Some people, especially people who don’t drink that often, may feel the effects of an alcoholic beverage in 10 minutes.
Many factors play into how alcohol affects you, specifically gender, age, tolerance, how much you weigh, and if you’ve eaten beforehand. Drinks with a higher percentage of alcohol might be quicker to affect the body, so a shot will work faster than drinking one beer.
Once the alcohol has entered your bloodstream, your liver begins working to break it down. The speed it takes to break down just one drink cannot be sped up, even if you take all the precautions in the world to do so.
No old wives' tale will change how your body is processing the drinks you’ve consumed. If you need to become sober, your best bet is to stop drinking, go home, and get to bed!
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
Blood alcohol concentration refers to the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. Every drink that you have will have a different percentage of alcohol in it, but typically one beer has four to six percent alcohol, a glass of wine has 12 percent, and one shot of hard liquor has up to 40 percent alcohol in it.
If you have a few beers, you may not feel the effects of the alcohol right away, whereas after a couple of shots, you may be more intoxicated. You may feel like you’re sober before your BAC level is back to zero, but you still run the risk of getting in trouble if you aren’t positive.
You could be driving to work the next day and not even realize that your BAC level is above the legal limit still. In the worst cases, this can lead to you getting in trouble with the law and facing some harsh consequences.
How “Sobering Up” Really Works
Sobering up is a myth, no matter what you try to do to become sober. What you may actually be doing when attempting to sober yourself up is helping prevent a hangover. Many of the myths associated with sobering up can help to prevent the side effects of a hangover the next morning.
Eating food before you drink and consuming water throughout the night can help to prevent symptoms like nausea, headaches, and dehydration.
So, even though these tips won’t sober you up quickly, they will make the morning after not so difficult. That means that you should still do them! You shouldn’t expect your BAC levels to magically deplete because you’ve drank some water.
Eating a good meal before you go out to drink can slow the process of becoming drunk. Having drinks without any food in your stomach can speed up how alcohol affects your body.
If you have a meal high in fats and carbs before you start drinking, it can help to soak up some of the alcohol as it enters your body. This slows the absorption of alcohol in your body as the night goes on.
Additionally, eating throughout the night as you continue to drink can help your body maintain safe levels of drunkenness. You may not feel so nauseous or get sick if you’ve been eating bits and pieces with every drink you have.
Drinking Plenty of Water
Drinking a glass of water with every drink you have may help limit how drunk you feel and definitely helps avoid hangovers the next day. Alcohol consumption can be very dehydrating, so having plenty of water as you drink can lower the risk of headaches and nausea the next morning.
You can also take certain over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen, to help with the side effects of being dehydrated or hungover. You will want to avoid products that contain acetaminophen because it can interact with alcohol and cause problems such as liver damage.
Sleeping It Off
The only thing that truly works to sober you up is to let time heal your body and get lots of rest. Sleep is a great way to sober up because your body can rest and take its time to heal. While you sleep, you definitely aren’t putting anything else into your body, so it can metabolize what’s there and help you feel back to normal.
However, if someone is heavily intoxicated, “sleeping it off” can actually be dangerous. This is because there is a heightened risk of overdose or fatality when someone goes to sleep overly drunk.
Inebriated people may end up vomiting in their sleep and choking, so it’s best to monitor someone unable to form coherent sentences before bed.
Talk Sobriety With Sober Sidekick
Trying to overcome alcohol addiction or simply reduce your alcohol intake can be difficult. There is a lot of social influence when it comes to drinking, which may make you feel pressured to participate.
If you are constantly wondering ways to get yourself sobered up, you may want to consider becoming completely sober instead. This way, you never feel bad after a night out, and you know you’re safe from the negative consequences of drinking too much.
You can also gain access to medical professionals that can offer you advice on cutting back on alcohol and support you throughout your sobriety journey. Don’t wait and download the app on your Android or iPhone today to see results tomorrow!