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Why Does Day Drinking Feel Worse as You Get Older?

Maybe it’s because your cells are dying. Or maybe it’s because you actually had some errands you were supposed to complete this weekend

Day drinking is a game of strategy I have never quite perfected. By the evening, you’re presented with two options — pass out, or continue into oblivion. Neither are very appealing to me. Even if I nap for an hour or two, I wake up feeling like a balled-up wet towel placed in a plastic bag and forgotten about in a hot car for a week. I don’t think I’ve ever pursued the latter route of just drinking into the night, though I fear what would happen if I did. For all intents and purposes, I’d probably just pass out the same. 

I’m getting to a point now, though, where I might have a mid-afternoon hard seltzer and then immediately feel like I just hired an invisible person to come beat the shit out of me. Am I losing what little day-drinking ability I had before? Or more largely, does day drinking get worse as we age?

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Day drinking can indeed get worse as we age simply because hangovers get worse with age. There are a couple of theories as to why this hangover phenomenon occurs. Some experts suggest that it’s simply because our drinking habits lessen as we get older, making us less accustomed to the side effects. Others speculate it’s because we carry more fat, which increases our body’s intoxication compared to when we were younger and leaner. It might also be because of changes on the cellular level. According to Healthline, stretches of DNA in our cells, called telomeres, shorten as we get older. As this happens, our cells can no longer divide and regenerate. This is one of the reasons we experience any symptoms of aging at all — our cells simply can’t recuperate like they used to. 

Whether our hangovers feeling worse is really just in our head or not, we experience the comedown of alcohol and the hangover more when we day drink simply because we’re awake. After a night of binge drinking, you probably go right to sleep. After a day of drinking, though, you might still have a few hours to kill before bedtime. If your hangover feels worse with age, then logic would dictate that your day drinking is going to feel worse, too, just because you’re awake to experience the immediate effects of it. 

If I had to guess, though, a big reason why day drinking sucks more as time creeps forward is simply because we’ve all got shit to do. I absolutely love to blow an entire day pounding some bevvies by the pool, but I know that I still have to like, clean my bathroom and file taxes or something the next day. I mean, shouldn’t I be at Home Depot instead?