In college, a night of drinking probably didn’t stop you from waking up early and hitting the gym in the morning. Unfortunately, now even one glass of wine at 7 p.m. can result in a massive morning headache. But, weirdly enough, hangovers don’t get worse as you get older because of your age—rather, it’s more likely due to your habits.
When you drink more, your body becomes used to it, and your tolerance goes through the roof. But as you age, you’re likely to trade in all-night ragers for more sophisticated gatherings, like dinner parties where kombucha is the house cocktail (the buzzy wellness beverage is super-trendy this year). This lifestyle shift is certainly a buzzkill for your tolerance level, but it’s good news for your overall health. Still, it can leave you feeling pretty crappy when you do decide to have any sort of alcohol whatsoever.
“Age may be a proxy for regularity of drinking. If you haven’t gone to a party for two to three weeks, [the hangover] might be less about being [older] and more about your drinking history.” —Lara Ray, PhD
“Age may be a proxy for regularity of drinking,” Lara Ray, PhD, told The New York Times. “If you haven’t gone to a party for two to three weeks, [the hangover] might be less about being [older] and more about your drinking history.”
But, there is one age-related element to your hangover woes: Dr. Ray also said the body replaces muscle with fat as it ages, so the same amount of alcohol can make someone with a higher fat content more intoxicated than someone who’s fitter. But, she added that effect rarely comes into play before a person’s mid-sixties.
So, the real question here: How can you enjoy occasionally drinking without feeling it for days to come? According to Dr. Ray, simply sip more slowly. Also, drink more water to dilute the alcohol so you don’t completely shock or overload your body with something that it’s not equipped to filter quickly in the first place.