Hangovers In Your Forties: Not the Fun They Used to Be

hangoverI woke up today with a hangover.

I’d been inside all week with my five year-old who’s on Easter break from school. So when some friends called up for a “lady’s night out,” I was all over it. (As I walked out the door, my daughter invited me to dance. Um, no thank you…I think I’d prefer a beer.)

Neither of these two friends drinks alcohol anymore, so it was up to me to show the flag.

The sad part is I only had two drinks. Beers, in fact. I don’t even drink hard liquor any more. Somehow, I seem to have by-passed that whole cocktail culture revival thing. (Dare I say that I got there just a “tini” bit late?)

But, apparently, two Asahi’s were enough to do the trick. I woke up around 4:30 in the morning with the tell-tale signs of a hangover:  the beginnings of a migraine, a dry, cottony mouth and a vaguely nauseous feeling that caused me to quickly down two Advil and a glass of water and inform my husband that he’d need to get up with the kids. (I love that in Britain it’s not called a “drinking” problem, but rather, a “drinks” problem. So I guess I have a “two drinks” problem.)

I know, it’s pathetic. But it’s actually an improvement over the last time I had a hangover, which was about three or four months ago. I went out for drinks with some people from my acting class, many of whom were a good ten or fifteen years younger than I am. I not only spent the night nursing two Coronas, but also found myself lamenting that the bar was too noisy, too hot, and too uncomfortable, and left well before midnight. It was another one of those moments where I just felt really old.

Why are hangovers so much worse when you’re older? For God’s sake, I only had two beers and I spent the whole day in a complete fog! When I was younger there was almost something fun – inviting, even – about being hungover. It was a challenge of sorts to beat it into submission.

Boy, those days are gone.

But I guess there are some upsides to the post-40 hangover. In the old days, I’d fight it off with some combination of greasy food, a nap and then, invariably, a hair of the dog. Today I lay in bed all afternoon with my daughter watching Oliver. When all else fails, there’s nothing like a rousing round of Oom Pah Pah to give you a quick pick-me-up. I can’t say it beats a Bloody Mary, but for now it might just have to do.

Image: Photo by Eddy Billard on Unsplash

  • Reply M. del Mar Paredes Maña

    April 10, 2009, 9:24 pm


    that is exactly what happens to me!!. I definitively can’t drink alcohol anymore. In fact, I became teetotal years ago because I had a hangover even with a half a glass of wine; you know, here in Spain wine is part of our Mediterrean diet, physicians recommend it for preventing heart deseases and it’s just part of our culture as well, so it’s a bit impolite, weird or just embarrassing to say: “no, thanks, I drink no alcohol”, when someone offers you a glass of wine in any celebration. They just look at you as a foreign. I think 98% of adult Spaniards drink alcohol, (leave alone teenagers: 100%), so I feel as an expat in those situations.

    I remember those Summers (centuries ago) when we can drink beers, gin, rum, etc. (do you?) and I only suffered from nausea feeling or a lightly migraine.

    Now in my forties my body can’t assimilate any drop of alcohol and I really don’t know if it’s due to my age as you say or simply because I’m not used to it, yet.

  • Reply Madeleine

    April 11, 2009, 3:21 pm

    Hangover smangover.

    Acting class? Must hear more.

  • Reply Joanne

    April 18, 2009, 10:02 pm

    I can relate, being back to school, everyone is in their 20’s and all they think about is partying…and meanwhile here I am hitting the books, dealing with my kids and too tired to join them for drinks after and too ashamed to be zonked on 1 or 2 drinks too…and yes I still picture Molly Ringwald as young and pouty! Is 40 really the new 20, lol! I don’t feel it, sure I look young but my inner roots are stuck in the 80s.. Generation X’ers unite!!! Love your site!!

  • Reply Lydia

    May 4, 2009, 6:12 pm


    I am sure that seeing my name in this posting’s “comment” section strikes fear into the heart of RealDelia. Yes, I am one of the few and the proud who holds many many images of our beloved blogger in a hungover state — these are merely images in my mental scrapbook, of course. Nothing to post online. Alas.

    So what is my comment? I fear the purity and virtue of the alcohol-free middle-aged body even as I acknowledge that the pain of hangovers increases with every year of age.

    Am I once again invoking the Tao? (I can be relied upon to do this in almost any arena of discussion.) That there must be some middle way that is not about stasis but rather about keeping channels open and balanced so that the sap of life can flow?

    In other words, I think my 99 year old grandmother was on to something good when she sat down almost every evening of her adult life with her (rather generously poured) glass of chardonnay.

    Ahh…. rationalizations can be so much fun! Thanks, Delia, for inviting us all into these speculations. We’ll raise a pint or two (but not three!) soon.

  • Reply delialloyd

    May 4, 2009, 6:26 pm

    Are you sure there are no photos!?!?

  • Reply Geena Murphy

    May 20, 2009, 2:56 pm

    I really like your blog! You have wrote a really wonderful article on migraine. Thanks they are a great help!

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