There's A Scientific Reason Why Your Hangovers Get Worse With Age

by Gigi Engle
Warner Bros.

It’s the morning after a night out at the bars; the memories of last night’s debauchery are hazy and riddled with a far-off feeling of regret.

Your head is pounding; you feel like you very well may throw up all over yourself, and the prospect of going to work is daunting at best, terrifying at worst.

Your blaring alarm clock says 7:45, and it is time to pull yourself together.

You can’t understand why you feel so horrible. Wasn’t it only a few years ago you could throw back shots with reckless abandon, crawl up your stairs like a drunken turtle at five in the morning and be up at 8 am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to study for finals?

What happened to you, you hot mess?

I think we can all agree now that we’re older, we just can’t recover from a night of heavy drinking like we used to.

Gone are days of yesteryear; those college nights of keg stands are long behind us, and as we slip into our twenties, drinking has started to come laden with more severe hangovers than we ever expected.

Your hangovers now seem to last an entire day, a full 24 hours of pain. They shouldn’t even be called hangovers anymore. What they are now are blackovers.

At least you’re not alone! Science has the answers, as always. You’re just not in drinking shape anymore, my friend.

Elite Daily teamed up with Dr. Kevin Soden, MD, MPH and Fitness Expert Ricki Friedman of Break The Weight to get the skinny on why your hangovers have become such thick ass blackovers.

Let’s begin with the basics. You know, science and sh*t.

What is a hangover?

Other than the devil incarnate, a hangover is the result of a night of heavy drinking… lol duh.

According to NBC, the breakdown of liquor is a two-step process. The liver takes the highly-toxic chemical found in alcohol, acetaldehyde, and then further converts it into the non-toxic chemical, acetate.

It takes the body one hour to metabolize one drink and process it through your body.

So, for all of us pounding drinks at much speedier intervals, the toxic chemical acetaldehyde flushes into our blood stream, basically poisoning our systems. Thus, you become hungover AF the more you drink.

Who says science can’t be fun, AMIRIGHT!?

The symptoms of a hangover, we know all too well: Your body is dehydrated, you get nauseated and, of course, there’s the pounding headache.

As Dr. Soden additionally points out,

The person may also experience elevated levels of anxiety, regret, shame, embarrassment, as well as depression.

Wait, why do we do this again?

Now that we know what causes the day after drinking to truly be hell on earth, let’s talk about how you’re old AF, and your body isn’t having any of your irresponsible sh*t anymore.

Your body is over your shenanigans.

As we age, our bodies just can’t recover like they used to. Dr. Soden informs us that our energy levels are significantly depleted as we venture into the dark chokehold of adulthood.

Now that we’re adults and sh*t, we’re getting less sleep, we’re more stressed due to our new careers and are probably not eating the way we should.

All of these lifestyle habits make us unfit for that partying lifestyle we grew so accustomed to as youngsters.

Our livers are low-key not down anymore.

As Friedman points out,

As we get older, our livers produce less antioxidants, and the toxins end up passing through our bodies causing headaches, vomiting and all those other really fun hangover experiences.

Where are my B vitamin supplements? I need them!

If you consume two or more drinks every day, your body will eventually not be able to filter toxins like it once did.

According to Food Coach NYC, anyone consuming alcohol on a daily basis will end up with a fatty liver that is ill-equipped to filter it properly.

As Dr. Eric Braverman, MD, notes,

A fatty liver elevates triglyceride levels, impairs glucose regulation and makes it more challenging to clear toxins from the body.

If you can’t clear toxins, you better believe you’re going to be surrendering the next day to the hangover gods.

On top of our livers not bouncing back, our bodies just aren’t as lean as they were when were tikes, drinking shots of tequila (underage, sorry mom) at the frat house.

“Our fat percentage increases, which leads to a higher blood alcohol content,” Friedman tells us.

The higher the blood alcohol content, the drunker you get.

Alcohol + Sleep = No rest for the wicked.

When you drink, you mess up your sleep. As Friedman points out, many of us use alcohol as a means to fall asleep more quickly. Do not do this!

Drinking interrupts our sleep by interrupting our 'REM' cycle, which can cause us to be tireder the next day.

You may fall asleep quickly when you indulge in that glass (read: bottle) of wine, but really, you’re throwing off your entire sleep cycle.

The sleep you’re getting isn’t restful sleep. Your brain has basically just shut off, not fallen into a state of recharge.

As Dr. Soden tells us, when we were younger, we didn’t need as much sleep to feel refreshed.

Now that we’re getting older, we need a lot more sleep to get the same level of cognitive clarity the next day.

And everyone knows eight hours of sober sleep is 10 times more rejuvenating than 12 hours of drunken sleep.

Stop using alcohol as a crutch, people! You’re ruining your life!

OK, that was a little dramatic, but you’re messing up your sleep patterns, for real.

So, what the f*ck can I do to help this wretched hangover?

Friedman let us in on a little secret that will blow your mind: Those burgers, fries, pizza and other greasy foods you’re consuming in your drunken stupor are actually making your hangovers WORSE.

In a cruel twist of irony, alcohol is processed through the same bodily pathways as fat. So, when you’re stuffing your face with unhealthy sh*t from your local campus diner, you’re actually setting yourself up for failure.

Friedman says the best way to help fight your impending hangover is to eat eggs post-game, after you’re finished taking that bottle to the face.

Eggs contain cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid that helps soak up the remaining toxins left in your system.

Friedman also says to stop drinking well before bedtime (LOL, OK) and to chug a bunch of water before bed.

Dr. Soden adds that taking an anti-inflammatory such as Advil before you hit the hay (read: pass the f*ck out on your kitchen floor) will help make the following day manageable.

Or you can stop getting so f*cked up altogether.