Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Jul 11, 2011 04:30 AM

3 drinks, up at 3am, why?

When I was in college, I could, like most of my cohorts, drink way too much, sleep well, and function in the morning. In this millennium, I find more and more that if I have more than 2 drinks, even if they are spaced out and I do my best to drink lots of water, I end up waking up in the middle of the night, wide awake, heart pounding, super thirsty. Does this happen to other people, and can anybody explain why it happens? Is it just part of the metabolism changing with age? - I'm late 30's and I've noticed this trend over the past few years. What gives? Now, I'm not considering this a serious medical problem, just really annoying, I'm curious as to what is going on physiologically and of course what I can do to prevent it. Not that I plan to drink like a 21 year old ever again, but every now and then it would be nice to be able to have a 3rd glass of wine AND a good night's sleep!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Welcome to being old...ish. I can't drink more than 2 drinks unless I am prepared to pay for it later that night, either--I sleep terribly if I drink a third (or more) glass of wine. I too could put away much more when I was 20, but at 43, those days are gone. Over the course of my 30s I also became progressively more and more sensitive to caffeine, to the point where I stopped drinking caffeine in any form at 41. It's annoying. But there you go.

    15 Replies
    1. re: travelmad478

      Blurg. 43 here also. Let me tell you about what too much sodium does to my ankles now...

      1. re: shanagain

        What's even suckier is that this thread is two years old, now I'm 45, and it just gets worse :-)

        1. re: travelmad478

          Ha. Yeah, I pretty much quit drinking, for a few reasons. It's just not worth it anymore.

          1. re: babette feasts

            Well, Babette, I'll tell you...

            If I had all the money I'd spent on drink,

            I'd spend it on drink.

          2. re: travelmad478



            Now that's what I'm talking about.

        2. re: travelmad478

          Yikes! At 29 I am already avoiding the caffeine and my colleagues think I am crazy. Great to know this will be getting worse.

          1. re: melpy

            Yep. I was not only hypersensitive (eventually, having a caffeinated drink anytime after noon would keep me up until 4 AM) but also got severe migraines in the late afternoon if I happened to miss my one cup of tea in the morning. Finally I got a withdrawal reaction so bad that I felt like I was in the heroin-withdrawal scene in Trainspotting, at which point I swore off caffeine permanently. On the plus side, I have never been one of those people who needs a cup of coffee in the morning to wake up, so for me it's just about missing the taste of coffee. And the aggravation of having to scrutinize every soda can, never being able to order iced tea, etc. I mostly drink water and seltzer now. Sigh.

            1. re: melpy

              yeaaah...within about 5 years or so, they'll all be following in your footsteps.

              Getting old sucks...but it does tend to cut back on the fierce hangovers.

              1. re: melpy

                If you're not actually ovrsensitive to it, you might want to try to build up a 'resistance ' to it. An iced tea here and there, the odd cup of coffee- think of it as training. There's little harm in caffeine for most folks, and it will help you not be blindsided by it if accidentally exposed. JMHO

                1. re: EWSflash

                  I don't have problems if I have a piece of chocolate or a cup of decaf (both of which contain small amounts of caffeine) but that's as far as I care to go. It's not like people are going to be secretly spiking my drinks with caffeine. I can avoid it pretty easily.

                2. re: melpy

                  years ago i instituted a "no caffeine" policy for my office because, at any given time, half the folks were in bathroom peeing.
                  the increased productivity from the caffeine was leading to decreased productivity because of it's diuretic effect. . . .

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Why not just catheterize everyone when they walk in the door?

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      we had a small office.
                      it was important that SOMEONE be there to answer the phone.
                      the caffeine was fine until DURING THE DAY the phones were constantly being put on the service.
                      that's when i started to adulterate the caffeinated coffee with decaf.
                      nobody even knew what had happened until the conversion was complete.
                      the placebo effect is quite something.
                      they THOUGHT they were drinking caffeinated coffee, so they FELT alert, but they were able to answer the phone!

                    2. re: westsidegal

                      it must really have been a shock when you banned lunches!

                3. I just turned 40 and that 3rd glass of wine is a sure way to be up in the middle of the night. I have the same thing - waking with a start, pounding heart, absolutely can't go back to sleep.

                  I noticed this starting about 3 years ago. My friends also complain about it.

                  I don't drink caffeine past 9am. Even a couple of sips of soda in the afternoon wrecks my sleep. I am considering eliminating it from my diet all together as I don't need coffe and should stop drinking soda.
                  For me, it is just wine that bothers me. I rarely drink beer but when I do, like at a picnic or BBQ, multiple beers don't bother me at all, aside from a trip to the potty. We will do rum punches for cookouts once or twice a month and they don't bother me either.

                  Anyone else notice that their sensitivity is wine-only related?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cleobeach

                    Weirldy, I can handle soda. But yeah, drinking makes it hard to sleep if it's more than a couple drinks as well as a serious hangover the next day.

                    1. re: cleobeach

                      I often have trouble sleeping through the night if I've had alcohol of any type, but red or off-dry wine is BY FAR the worst offender. More than one glass and I'm almost guaranteed to have a shitty night. If I drink something else (dry white wine, Scotch, clear liquors, etc.), I can usually have three drinks and still get a decent night's sleep, as long as they're well spaced and I have plenty of water.

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        I just listened to a podcast (I think it was Andrew Zimmern's) that had a wine expert guest. She talked about all the additives in American white wines and how nearly all the below $30 a bottle chardonnays give wicked hangovers because of the additives.

                        I rarely (maybe 3x a year) drink red wine. My family seems to have a dermo issue that causes us to break out in a facial rash from red wine.

                    2. For me, it is drinking and having a big meal. Although, typically having more than 2 glasses of wine goes with being out for a grand dining experience anyway. I honestly think it is all the extra work my body is doing to metabolize it all. I wake up sweating and just can't seem to get comfortable again. I have tried sleeping with my shoulders propped up (advice given to those suffering from reflux issues) but it doesn't help at all. I have also tried taking a walk after dinner, not going to bed too soon after I eat. Nope - doesn't seem to help much.

                      I also don't have quite as much difficulty with beer, but if I truly over indulge with that, it will get me too.

                      I started noticing this problem around 35, and it has continued to worsen as I am only a few months from 40. I have to be very careful, or just accept that I'm going to pay for it later. :(

                      1. Everyone has different body chemistry -- generalizations are futile. I can drink three martinis and a Guinness, go to sleep and experience little more than excellent dreams...oh, and I've never experienced this mythical affliction called a "hangover."

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: beevod

                          Lucky you! When I was younger, hangovers were much more elusive, now, all too easy to come by. I get that everyone is different, but there must be a general set of changes in the body that would lead to this reaction, don't you think? Just curious what those might be.

                          1. re: babette feasts

                            Everyone's body is different and, again, generalizations are absurd. My parents smoked, drank and basked,,,basked! in the Florida sun for years, sans suntan creams. They died well into their nineties, with neither wrinkles nor melanomas. (My father considered bourbon to be medically advisable for those over 85.

                            1. re: beevod

                              I hope you've had kids. Those are some damn good genes!

                          2. Age, dear.

                            About the time I turned 40, I noticed I could not have more than one glass of beer or wine within 3 hours of going to bed - if I did, I would wake after 3 sleep cycles and not get back to sleep. So I only drink beer or wine with lunch or an early dinner. Distilled spirits have less of an effect than fermented beverages, but I am still careful.

                            So now you will understand another reason why *many* middle aged folks are teetotalers at dinner time....(it's been fun to watch younger friends of mine who used to think I was merely being miserly, and who resented objections to separating bar tabs from food tabs, come to a similar place as they've aged).