Hangover Shakes: Causes and Treatments

Unveiling the causes of hangover shakes: alcohol withdrawal, dehydration, and more. Discover how to cope and find relief from the shakes.

Understanding Hangover Shakes

Hangover shakes can be a distressing experience for those who have indulged in excessive alcohol consumption. In this section, we will delve into what hangover tremors are and the impact they can have on individuals.

What are Hangover Shakes?

Hangover tremors, also known as alcohol tremors or alcohol shakes, are involuntary rhythmic movements of the body that occur after a night of heavy drinking. These tremors typically affect the hands, but can also be observed in other parts of the body such as the arms, legs, or even the torso.

Hangover tremors are classified as a type of essential tremor, which is a common movement disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking. The exact cause of hangover tremors is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of factors related to alcohol's effect on the nervous system, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances.

The Impact of Hangover Shakes

Hangover shakes can have a significant impact on an individual's physical and emotional well-being. They can cause feelings of embarrassment, anxiety, and discomfort, making it challenging to perform everyday tasks. The severity of hangover tremors can vary from person to person, with some individuals experiencing mild tremors while others may have more pronounced and disruptive shaking.

The presence of hangover tremors can also be an indication of other underlying issues, such as alcohol withdrawal. If you are experiencing hangover tremors frequently or if they are accompanied by other withdrawal symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can provide guidance on managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Understanding what causes hangover tremors is crucial for finding effective ways to cope with them. In the following sections, we will explore the various factors that contribute to hangover tremors, including alcohol withdrawal, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, lack of sleep, low blood sugar, and anxiety and stress. By addressing these factors, individuals can take steps to alleviate or prevent hangover tremors.

Causes of Hangover Shakes

Hangover shakes can be distressing and are often accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms. Understanding the underlying causes can help shed light on why these tremors occur after a night of heavy drinking. The main culprits behind hangover tremors include alcohol withdrawal, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Hangover tremors can be a result of alcohol withdrawal. When a person consumes large amounts of alcohol over an extended period and then abruptly stops or reduces their alcohol intake, their body may experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include tremors, shakes, and other physical and psychological discomforts.

Alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant, slowing down brain activity. When alcohol consumption is halted, the body tries to compensate for the sudden absence of alcohol by increasing excitatory brain activity, leading to tremors and other withdrawal symptoms.


Dehydration is a common consequence of excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and can lead to fluid loss from the body. This fluid loss can result in dehydration, which can manifest in various symptoms, including tremors.

Dehydration affects the balance of electrolytes in the body, leading to imbalances that can contribute to muscle spasms and tremors. It is important to replenish fluids by drinking water or electrolyte-rich beverages to help alleviate hangover symptoms and reduce the likelihood of tremors.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes are essential minerals that play a crucial role in various bodily functions, including muscle contractions and nerve signaling. Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt the balance of electrolytes in the body, leading to an electrolyte imbalance.

An electrolyte imbalance, especially a deficiency in magnesium and potassium, can contribute to muscle cramps, spasms, and tremors. Replenishing electrolytes through proper hydration and consuming electrolyte-rich foods or beverages can help restore balance and reduce the occurrence of hangover tremors.

By understanding the causes of hangover tremors, individuals can take steps to prevent or manage them effectively. Moderating alcohol consumption, staying hydrated, and maintaining electrolyte balance are key factors in reducing the likelihood of experiencing hangover tremors.

Alcohol's Effect on the Nervous System

To understand the causes of hangover tremors, it's important to explore how alcohol affects the nervous system. Alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant, meaning it slows down the functioning of the nervous system. This can have a significant impact on various aspects of the body, including the occurrence of hangover tremors.

Central Nervous System Depressant

When consumed, alcohol travels through the bloodstream and reaches the brain, where it interacts with the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating communication between nerve cells. Specifically, alcohol enhances the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down brain activity. This leads to the depressant effect of alcohol on the central nervous system, which can lead to a range of symptoms such as slowed reaction time, impaired judgment, and reduced inhibitions.

In addition to these short-term effects, excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to long-term health problems, such as liver damage, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Furthermore, the morning after heavy drinking, many people experience hangover tremors, which can include shaking, sweating, and nausea. It's important to be aware of the effects of alcohol and to consume it in moderation to avoid these negative consequences.

Disruption of Neurotransmitters

Alcohol disrupts the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps to slow down brain activity, while glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that promotes brain activity. Alcohol enhances the effects of GABA, further inhibiting brain function and contributing to the sedative effects of alcohol. This disruption in neurotransmitter activity can contribute to the development of hangover tremors.

Impact on Motor Coordination

One of the notable effects of alcohol consumption is the impairment of motor coordination. Alcohol affects the cerebellum, a region of the brain responsible for coordinating voluntary movements. As a result, alcohol can cause unsteady movements, tremors, and other motor control issues, which may be experienced as hangover tremors the following day.

Understanding the effects of alcohol on the nervous system provides insight into the causes of hangover tremors. It is important to note that individual experiences may vary, and not everyone who consumes alcohol will necessarily experience hangover tremors.

Other Contributing Factors

While alcohol withdrawal, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance are common causes of hangover tremors, several other factors can contribute to their occurrence. These factors include lack of sleep, low blood sugar, and anxiety and stress.

Lack of Sleep

A night of heavy drinking can often lead to a disrupted sleep pattern or even a lack of sleep altogether. Alcohol interferes with the quality of sleep, reducing the amount of restorative REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. As a result, individuals may experience increased feelings of fatigue and drowsiness, which can contribute to the development of hangover tremors.

To alleviate this factor, it is important to prioritize getting sufficient sleep after consuming alcohol. Restorative sleep can help the body recover and reduce the likelihood of experiencing hangover symptoms, including tremors.

Low Blood Sugar

Alcohol consumption can disrupt the body's regulation of blood sugar levels, leading to various health complications. When alcohol is metabolized, it can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar can trigger various symptoms, including shakiness, weakness, and tremors. This is why it is important to be mindful of your alcohol intake, especially if you have a preexisting condition that affects your blood sugar levels.

To prevent low blood sugar and the associated tremors, it is advisable to consume a balanced meal before consuming alcohol. Including carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats in your pre-drinking meal can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the likelihood of experiencing hangover tremors. This can also help you avoid overeating or making unhealthy food choices while drinking, which can lead to further complications. Remember, moderation is key when it comes to alcohol consumption, and taking care of your body should always be a top priority.

Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress can exacerbate the symptoms of hangover tremors. Alcohol consumption can temporarily suppress feelings of anxiety, but as the effects wear off, individuals may experience increased levels of anxiety and stress. These emotional factors can contribute to the severity and frequency of hangover tremors.

Managing anxiety and stress levels is crucial in minimizing the impact of hangover tremors. Engaging in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, can help alleviate anxiety symptoms. Additionally, seeking support from friends, family, or professionals can provide valuable guidance and coping strategies.

By considering these additional contributing factors, individuals can better understand the underlying causes of hangover tremors. Addressing these factors, such as prioritizing sleep, maintaining stable blood sugar levels, and managing anxiety and stress, can help minimize the occurrence and intensity of hangover tremors.

Coping with Hangover Shakes

Experiencing hangover shakes can be a distressing and uncomfortable outcome of a night of heavy drinking. While prevention is always the best approach, it's important to know how to cope with hangover tremors if they occur. Here are some strategies to help you manage this symptom effectively.

Hydration and Replenishing Electrolytes

One of the primary causes of hangover tremors is dehydration. Alcohol has a diuretic effect on the body, leading to increased urine production and fluid loss. Replenishing lost fluids is crucial for relieving hangover symptoms, including tremors.

To combat dehydration, it's important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Additionally, consuming beverages that contain electrolytes, such as sports drinks or coconut water, can help restore the balance of essential minerals in your body. Electrolytes are vital for proper nerve function and muscle coordination.

Electrolyte and Function

  • Sodium: Regulates fluid balance and nerve function
  • Potassium: Helps maintain proper muscle function
  • Magnesium: Supports muscle relaxation and nerve function

Remember to sip fluids gradually rather than chugging them, as excessive consumption can lead to stomach discomfort.

Rest and Sleep

Getting sufficient rest and sleep is essential for aiding the body's recovery process. When we sleep, our bodies undergo repair and restoration, which is crucial for maintaining good health. However, alcohol consumption can disrupt the normal sleep cycle, resulting in poor sleep quality and fatigue. To ensure a speedy recovery, it is important to avoid alcohol or limit your intake as much as possible.

In addition to getting a good night's sleep, taking short naps throughout the day can also help combat fatigue. These naps don't have to be long; even a 20-minute power nap can do wonders for your energy levels. Establishing a consistent sleep routine can also improve the quality of your sleep and facilitate the recovery process. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. By allowing yourself ample time to rest, you give your body the opportunity to heal and regain its equilibrium, which is essential for a speedy recovery.

Managing Anxiety and Stress

Hangover tremors can often be accompanied by feelings of anxiety and stress. These emotions can exacerbate the tremors and make them feel more intense. Finding ways to manage anxiety and stress is crucial for minimizing their impact on your overall well-being.

Engaging in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, can help calm your mind and reduce anxiety. Physical activities like gentle stretching or going for a walk can also be beneficial in reducing stress levels.

If you find that your anxiety or stress is affecting your daily life, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and techniques tailored to your needs.

By following these coping strategies, you can effectively manage hangover tremors and alleviate their impact on your daily life. However, it's important to remember that the best approach is always prevention. Moderating your alcohol consumption, staying hydrated, and getting enough rest can significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing hangover tremors.


Hangover shakes can be a distressing symptom of the aftermath of heavy drinking. Understanding the causes and contributing factors of hangover tremors is crucial in developing effective prevention and coping strategies.

Alcohol withdrawal, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, lack of sleep, low blood sugar, anxiety, and stress are all potential culprits behind hangover tremors. By addressing these factors through moderation of alcohol consumption, proper hydration and nutrition, restful sleep, and stress management techniques, individuals can minimize the occurrence and severity of hangover tremors.

It's important to remember that the best approach to managing hangover tremors is always prevention. Consuming alcohol in moderation or abstaining altogether can greatly reduce the likelihood of experiencing unpleasant symptoms such as tremors.

By prioritizing your well-being and taking care of yourself before, during, and after consuming alcohol, you can enjoy a night out with friends without having to suffer from hangover shakes the next day.


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