What’s Really Up With 2-Day Hangovers (And How You Can Really Avoid Them)

Twenty-somethings may not believe it but if you’re in your thirties or past, you know what I mean when I say, “Beware the 2-day hangover.”

It’s summer time and that means lots of parties, fun, laughs, drinks and, of course, hangovers.

My first two-day hangover was my thirty-first birthday party. I thought I had avoided the legendary tales when my thirtieth came and went and I had bounced back pretty well. But alas, 31, and I was two days recovering from a night of drinking that wasn’t even anything to write home about.

If you happen to be one of the lucky ones, let me draw you a picture: The first day is the feeling we all know – massive headache and cravings for greasy food. Maybe a little vomiting again, if it all didn’t come up overnight. Then, the whole rest of the day feels off and you’re just a little more than a bit nauseated even by the evening. You regret everything.

And then the next day. You still feel off somehow and there’s a dull headache in the background. You still don’t have you’re regular appetite back, maybe you haven’t caught up on the sleep you missed, and memories of two nights ago start to emerge and, even more, you regret everything.

But what’s really going on here? Why are our thirty-year-old bodies not as able to bounce back from a crazy all-nighter as our twenty-something counterparts?

Well, for one, we may not be as avid drinkers as we once were. Aside from maybe that week-long, all-inclusive beach vacay once a year, when was the last time you drank to the ultimate edge of consciousness for more than two days in a row? When was the last time you celebrated spring break all week and forgot your name? Hopefully not recently, for the sake of your (ahem) aging body.

And, as you may have noticed (as I certainly have), a lot begins to change in our bodies once we turn thirty. In our thirties, our metabolism begins to slow down, which keeps the alcohol in our systems for a longer time. More specifically, the enzymes in our system that help metabolize alcohol, specifically alcohol dehydrogenase, are in shorter supply. Basically, our biology is against us and all we can do it be a little more patient.

Also, thanks to this slower metabolism, we tend to have a higher body fat percentage as we get older. Women in general have a higher body fat percentage which is why women generally tend to get tipsy from less alcohol. Our body fat percentage, not to be confused with our weight, also plays a role in how quickly we get drunk overall and how quickly it leaves our systems the next day.

Lastly, in our thirties we’re less likely to have the luxury of nursing our hangovers in our parents’ dark basement all day. We have more responsibilities like jobs, spouses and kids that need our attention. When we’re required to get up and be a grown-up no matter how we feel, sometimes our bodies simply don’t have a chance to recover.

So if you’re not quite in your thirties yet or you’ve just joined the club and haven’t yet had the pleasure, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news that this is a coming attraction.

On the bright side you now know more about what’s happening to your body and you can try to make better judgement calls about the alcohol you consume this summer.

The biggest positive here is that there are ways to reduce the hangover time:  Stay hydrated in general, not just on party night, but always. This combats alcohol’s dehydrating abilities and can also help to reduce your body fat percentage overall.

So drink up this summer, thirtysomeones, (water too).


Have questions about how to be at your best in your thirties? Get in touch for a chat about how personal coaching can help. Find out more at ashewoodward.com.

Some information for this article was reviewed at the following websites:

Women’s Health Online

The Wall Street Journal

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