I’m currently sitting at my computer hoping to goodness that the title of this article turns out to hold a shred of truth. Because at this moment in time, I’m writing’s equivalent of a method actor. Living my subject: slightly shaking, fighting off sweeping waves of nausea, cowering from the tiniest slither of light that is somehow managing to sneak its way into the darkened room. Or more simply put: hung-over to hell.
Which seems to be the perfect time to explore whether a good dunk in the water is the answer to all my problems, or if I’ll regret the not inconsiderable effort of drawing back the curtains and flooding my swollen eyes with the nemesis of every overindulgent drinker – natural light.
The cause of a hangover is no secret. Yet the severity, duration and symptoms seem to vary not only between individuals, but between individual circumstances. We’ve all had nights out where a hangover was very much anticipated, yet we’ve woken up feeling remarkably fresh. And on the flip-side have experienced occasions where we had hoped to get away with nothing more than a slight feeling of grogginess, only to be caught unawares and totally side swiped by a catastrophic sensation of impending death. But is there any reason why surfing can genuinely help to cure the most brutal of self-inflicted ailments?
The obvious answer seems to be that it is the exercise involved that offers some respite from the hangover. “Sweat out the alcohol” is common advice to those deemed to be suffering. But scientific evidence, actual proper research, suggests that exercise is not necessarily the best solution. Everyone is aware that too much alcohol dehydrates the system, so the idea of further dehydrating the body by sweating or vigorously exercising may not be sensible. And while some of the alcohol in your system may leave through the pores on your skin (resulting in that classy ‘eau de morning after’ lingering fragrance) the actual amount of toxins that are able to escape in this way are minimal.
Exercising with a hangover is not all together without its benefits. Getting the blood pumping speeds up the rate at which the body is able to dispose of all the junk circulating around inside, but again, actual scientific evidence for this is mixed, and everybody seems to react differently anyway.
So why does surfing help cure a hangover? Because in my experience, it really does.
Perhaps it’s the distraction? Suddenly your brain is no longer focussing on the waves of nausea, rather waves of an altogether different kind. Self-preservation is pushed to the forefront of the mind, and any thoughts of self-pity are dismissed.
But for me, the biggest factor is the freshness of the water. The cold water shocks the body back into life. It jolts all senses and perceptions in the general direction of the land of the living. If toxins are actually able to escape from the pores in the skin, then nothing can match the effectiveness of cold salty water in sweeping them away and disposing of them for good. You don’t even need to catch any waves; just being in the water is enough to begin the journey of recovery. And with every duck-dive, wipeout and splash of spray in the face, your body is rehydrated in an altogether different way.
Time to draw back those curtains and see if I’m right.