How To Know If It’s Too Early Or Too Late To Drink Alcohol

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How To Know If It’s Too Early Or Too Late To Drink Alcohol

By Kimberley Laws
September 11, 2022

Alcoholic beverages have long been associated with rebelling: breaking free from the restraints of responsibility, societal expectations, and other sobering things. It doesn’t mean, however, that imbibing doesn’t come with its own set of rules and mores — especially when it comes to what is and isn’t an appropriate time to drink.

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For instance, many frown upon morning drinkers. A YouGov survey revealed that only 18% of all respondents believed that it was okay to partake before noon, while 13% thought that people should abstain until 6 p.m. There are certain occasions that may call for an early morning alcoholic beverage, like Germany’s Frühschoppen, a time-honored tradition that demands “a wheat beer and sausage before midday on Sundays and holidays.” There’s also the British custom of having champagne on Christmas morning (as per The Telegraph), and, of course, that old rumored “hair of the dog” hangover remedy. Even those who give day-drinking two-thumbs-up deem some beverages more respectable than others. Esquire, for example, says you shouldn’t “start swigging Old-Fashioneds or Rusty Nails at 2 p.m. unless you’re super hardcore” and recommends, instead, opting for a Pimm’s Cup or Aperol Spritz. Yes, having a tipple or two comes with a lengthy list of rules that don’t seem to be based on anything more than public opinion.

Surely, there must be a logical way to determine the best times to imbibe. Thankfully, we need only look to our bodies and how they work for the answers.

Booze with breakfast will send alcohol right to your bloodstream

When actually examining how alcohol interacts with the body, it’s easier to understand where society’s proclamations regarding the appropriate times to drink originated. Take morning drinking. It turns out that this isn’t just a random rule made by people who want to spoil your fun. Dietician Jerlyn Jones told HuffPost that drinking on an empty stomach allows the alcohol unfettered and speedy access to your bloodstream. This is why breakfast-time boozing — even champagne and sparkling wine — is a potentially bad idea. See, breakfast drinking is frowned upon for good reason.

What about midday boozing? The founder of Ancient Nutrition, Dr. Josh Axe, told Eat This, Not That that alcohol consumption tends to make people feel lethargic and unmotivated, so your day will consist of unhealthy choices like a lack of productivity, remaining sedentary, and eating poorly. On the flip side, Health and Wellness Expert Caleb Backe shared with Bustle that drinking in the daytime could encourage you to drink less as you likely have other things you want to get done in the day.

With most drinking opportunities presenting themselves in the evening, perhaps the best time to drink is at night. Right? Wrong.

Alcohol can destroy a good night’s sleep

Night-time drinkers may be shocked to learn what ill effects they’re unleashing on their unsuspecting bodies during a night of ale and lager. For one thing, booze and a good night’s sleep don’t mix. In fact, it is recommended that you cease to consume alcohol at least four hours before going to sleep (via HuffPost). Why do you need to put so many hours between your Long Island Iced Tea and your bedtime? Dietician Amanda Frankeny warns that heavy drinking can put your melatonin levels out of whack and wreck your sleep for seven days. Furthermore, the founder of Sleep Dallas shared with Bustle that alcohol relaxes the “muscles in our throat that keep our airway open,” which can make sleep conditions like snoring and sleep apnea worse.

The Cleveland Clinic adds that alcohol can also cause you to have intense dreams or nightmares that may make you feel like you’re not fully asleep and that it increases the likelihood of sleepwalking. And that’s not all – Insider explains that alcohol’s inherent diuretic qualities will keep you up and running to the bathroom all night.

Clearly, alcohol is sleep’s number one enemy. If you value your z’s (and, quite frankly, who doesn’t?), you may want to rethink that nightcap — unless, of course, it’s the kind you wear on your head.