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A Neuroscientist Explains How a Hangover Hat Works

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A Neuroscientist Explains How a Hangover Hat Works

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We may not be proud of it, but most of us have experienced a violent hangover at least once or twice in our lives. You know, the kind where you’re lying in bed in the fetal position for hours on end, questioning your life decisions? I, for one, have been there…done that.

The worst part of a nasty hangover? When a glass of water, a cold shower, and a cozy blanket—heck, even a cup of microwavable mac and cheese—all seemingly fail at making you feel any bit better. Yep, at that point, it’s time to call in the reinforcements. ICYMI, folks on social media have been buzzing about the latest (and hottest?) fashion trend: a hangover hat, which is basically a cross between a sleeping eye mask, and a 90s-style beanie that’s giving horror movie, ski masked-killer when worn.

That said, this accessory isn’t actually intended for wearing out in public. (But, hey, you do, you boo.) Instead, it’s meant to potentially help cure a hangover or raging headache when worn. But does it actually work? We caught up with Patrick Porter, PhD, a neuroscience expert and the founder and CEO of BrainTap, to see if a hangover hat is really the answer to your hangover prayers.

@alixearle Pulling up in my hangover hat 😭🤌🏼 (car is from @Velocity Modern Classics ♬ Barbie Girl – Aqua

Seriously, though, do hangover hats work?

To our (pleasant) surprise, Dr. Porter says that wearing a hangover hat might not be as silly as it sounds. “A ‘hangover hat,’ like the TheraICE Migraine Headache Relief Cap, can aid in alleviating headaches or hangovers through a combination of compression and cooling effects,” Dr. Porter says. (To that point, TheraICE does have 28,000 nearly five-star Amazon reviews.)

The headache relief cap, which can freeze in just two hours, offers therapeutic cooling benefits that Dr. Porter says can help relieve the discomfort of a hangover (or a regular headache, for that matter). “The cooling aspect can constrict blood vessels, thereby reducing inflammation and pain. It also slows the conduction speed of pain signals in neurons, leading to diminished pain perception,” he says, similar to using a normal ice pack. The hardest part? Remembering to toss it in the fridge (or freezer) the night before.

“The cooling aspect can constrict blood vessels, thereby reducing inflammation and pain. It also slows the conduction speed of pain signals in neurons, leading to diminished pain perception.”

What makes a hangover hat even better than simply slapping a bag of peas on your forehead is simple: The compression factor. “The hat’s compression helps decrease swelling and inflammation, also aiding in pain reduction,” Dr. Porter says.

Although a hangover hat on its own can work wonders, the neuroscience expert suggests pairing it with a little brainwave entertainment. “On a neurological level, combining these physical effects with something like brainwave entrainment, used in the BrainTap headset [a brain fitness tool], can provide even more relief. Brainwave entrainment can help synchronize your brain’s neural activities with a specific frequency, promoting relaxation and recovery,” Dr. Porter says.

How long do you need to wear a hangover hat to reap the benefits?

The good news is that you won’t necessarily need to wear a hangover hat out in public or for hours on end in order to reap the benefits. “The length of time you should wear the TheraICE cap generally depends on your personal comfort and the severity of the headache or hangover,” Dr. Porter says. But, generally speaking, 15 to 30 minutes should typically do the trick.

Something to note: The hat is designed to also cover your eyes, yet Dr. Porter says it isn’t all that necessary. The cooling and compression on your head on their own will typically suffice. But to further enhance your state of relaxation and speed up the hangover recovery, he recommends lying down while wearing the cap for optimal tranquility. But if you need to get up and walk around, it’s a-okay to keep it on. Just be warned: You may get some questionable stares from your neighbors or family pet.

If you need to get up and walk around, it’s a-okay to keep it on. Just be warned: You may get some questionable stares from your neighbors or family pet.

The best solution for managing a hangover is not a hat (TBH)

Although we wish it were, a hangover hat is certainly not the end-all-be-all in terms of hangover remedies. “The TheraICE cap can offer significant relief for headaches and hangovers, but it’s not necessarily the ‘best’ solution universally, as causes can vary widely,” Dr. Porter says.

Instead, he points out that dehydration is—in most cases—the main culprit behind a hangover or headache. As such, he emphasizes that rehydrating after a long night out is the number one priority. “Dehydration is a frequent contributor to both hangovers and headaches, so ensuring proper hydration and electrolyte balance is essential,” Dr. Porter says. And if all else fails, over-the-counter (OTC) medications—when taken appropriately—can also help provide some relief.

A quick and easy tension-relieving stretch:



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