It's summertime, and the livin' is easy. And boozy. Unfortunately, unless you're one of those mythical teachers who actually takes the entire summer off, or an idle debutante who wiles away the hours with vodka lemonades on the front porch, or a cast member of Jersey Shore, you're still expected to work. But even the most advanced late-nighters overestimate their ability to successfully remain conscious during the day after a night of liver-sullying. The only cure for a hangover is time, and it's much easier to pass the time if you spend at least some of it napping. Unfortunately, napping is frowned upon in most non-mattress tester settings, and so if you're going to sleep, you must do it covertly.
When the alarm clock starts its relentless beeping at 6:30 and the inside of your mouth tastes like the rubber drink discard tray at a bar and your is skin emanating the sickly sweet smell of still-metabolizing alcohol, you can listen to your body and call in sick to work — but that isn't always an option. Maybe because you were out with people from work the night before. Or perhaps because you're new at your job and don't want to use a sick day if you can help it. Sometimes you have an important project or meeting that needs tending to. Whatever the case, you're kind of fucked and need to deal.
Three important things to remember when sleeping off your hangover during work hours: leave the premises, set an alarm, and do not be seen. While these lessons are important ones for any young professional idiot who isn't yet aware of her diminishing capability to effectively metabolize alcohol, I hope you won't have to use them that often. The only thing less pleasant than being hungover at work is being hungover at a Catholic wedding.
The safest way to nap a hangover off at work is to leave your physical workplace to do it. Do you have the sort of job that allows you some autonomy in leaving? Are you able to schedule your own meetings? Do you have a car? If the answer is yes, then gather materials to look like you're heading to an Important Business Thing and instead make a pilgrimage to your car, drive it a couple of blocks, lean the seat back, and set your cell phone alarm for sometime between 5 and 50 minutes.
If you're a car-less urbanite and you don't have the luxury of leaving without scrutiny, consider the unoccupied spaces in your office as potential places to nap. If you have a windowless conference room, go in with a notebook and some work related materials, lock the door, and take a power nap. In a pinch, your purse or cardigan can make a great insta-pillow, and I know of one person who is certainly not me in the least who has made a pillow by wrapping bubble wrap in a sweater. Conference rooms without locks on the doors are no sweat; just sleep with your feet against the door so that any movement would cause you to wake up.
Using your own office as a napping location is fine, Ms. Big Shot, just close the door and be careful not to be seen. An intrepid power napper might choose to spread several files on the ground under one's desk and prostrate oneself among them, using the "I would be at my desk, but I can't because I dropped all these files on the floor and they must be tended to" excuse.
An associate of mine swears by using the accessible stall in the workplace bathroom to take a fake shit during the day, but this method should only be used if you're able to sleep sitting up and there aren't any actual disabled people in your office, because you don't want to be that hungover jerk preventing your wheelchair-bound colleague from relieving herself (or from taking her own hangover nap).
I've heard legends of some Olympian sleepers who have trained themselves to face the wall and sleep with their chins in their hands, but that may be a long perpetuated myth, like the Jackalope or the Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Explore the possibility of using an unoccupied office or a storage closet. Even if you don't have the ability to step away during the day, consider using your lunch hour to grab some food to eat at your desk later, and then use the remainder of your break to nap. The world is your sleeping bag!
Once you've successfully completed your slumber, you're going to have to do some post-nap clean up. Remember to check yourself out in the mirror before facing any important coworkers or superiors. Pressure marks on cheeks or foreheads are a dead giveaway, plus you already probably look like hell because you're hungover. Apply a fresh coating of rouge if it will make you look more lively. Do a few jumping jacks to get the blood pumping. Don't let them see you sweat or sleep.
Next time, drink more water before you go to bed or just use a damn sick day.
When you get home from work, immediately take your pants off and take the most glorious evening nap of all time. You've earned it, Bad Decision All-Star!
Image by Elizabeth Robin Stephenson.