Day drinking is a polarizing subject. Some love a good boozy brunch, while others think it totally ruins their day. In the center of this debate is how your body reacts to alcohol — and whether the time you're drinking really affects how you feel. Turns out, for a variety of factors, the
effects of day drinking can be quite different than drinking at night.
The biology of how your body absorbs alcohol doesn't change depending on whether it's 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. "Your body processes alcohol through the same biological mechanisms no matter what time of day you drink," Sal Raichbach, PsyD, of
Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Bustle. "However, the effects that you feel can vary depending on the time of day." Because of the variations of where and how much you're drinking, as well as whether you're drinking before bed or early enough to not mess with your sleep, your body can experience a different response.
drinking in moderation can help you avoid many of the negative effects associated with alcohol consumption. And age-old tips like eating balanced meals, drinking less-sugary drinks, and hydrating as you drink, are always worth following — even during the daytime.
Here are six unexpected ways drinking during the day affects your body differently than at night, according to experts.
1 It Can Mean The Alcohol Doesn't Absorb As Quickly Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock
Because day drinking so often revolves around social situations and food — you're way less likely to be drinking on an empty stomach.
"Food in your stomach means that it takes longer for the alcohol to be absorbed into the blood system," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at
Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "Drinking at night usually means less food and faster absorption of alcohol into your body." While this doesn't give you a free pass to drink more than usual, it may mean your body has a less jarring response to the drinking. 2 The Time Of Day Could Affect Your Next Night's Sleep Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock
Whether you're drinking at brunch, at an early happy hour, or having a night cap or two, can drastically affect how you sleep that night.
"Alcohol is effective in suppressing melatonin which is the hormone associated with sleep and regulating your sleep-wake cycles," Backe says. "This means that drinking at night affects the quality of your sleep — whereas, during the day, this is less of an issue." If you know that you need to get a good night's sleep, then you likely will want to stop drinking a few hours before bed.
3 Day Drinking May Mean More Moderation Goran Bogicevic/Shutterstock
Of course, this isn't always the case, but daytime social situations are often less likely to involve binge drinking than nighttime ones.
"Day drinking is often moderated by the fact that most people have other things to do for the rest of the day," Backe says. "The drinking isn’t about the drinking itself but the social scene — unlike nighttime drinking." Because of this, you may be more likely to curb the more
harmful effects of alcohol. Making a habit of drinking less, and drinking in the early evening rather than late at night, could be helpful in the long-run. 4 You May Notice Your Motor Skills Are More Affected In The Daytime wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock
Day drinking isn't entirely less harmful than drinking at night. Drinking during the day could end up increasing the likelihood that your impaired motor function due to alcohol consumption becomes a problem.
"Daytime drinking may lead to impairment of awake functioning,"
Dr. Brent Boyett, chief medical officer with addiction treatment center Pathway Healthcare, tells Bustle. "The ability to operate a car or to even interact with others can create significant social and physical consequences." Making sure you have a designated driver, or plan for how to get home, is always important — regardless what time of day it is. 5 Day Drinking May Be Less Likely To Affect Your Breathing Problems William Perugini/Shutterstock
Being awake for a few hours after you drink alcohol can be especially beneficial if you have certain health conditions, particularly respiratory problems.
"Alcohol causes our muscles to relax beyond the point they would sans alcohol, including the muscles in our throat that keep our airway open," Dr. Kent Smith, founding director of
Sleep Dallas, tells Bustle. "For anyone with a sleep breathing condition such as persistent snoring, UARS, or sleep apnea (diagnosed or undiagnosed), this is particularly worrisome for your ability to get quality sleep." For those with these conditions, if your doctor says it is OK to drink, it's probably better not to drink before bed. 6 Drinking Earlier Can Help Prevent Your Biological Clock From Getting Confused
If you drink alcohol earlier in the day, you may be less likely to interrupt that night's sleep cycle. And keeping your biological clock on track can help
improve your overall health.
"Alcohol also affects our circadian rhythm, which operates as the body’s biological clock by alternating our cycles of sleepiness and alertness," Dr. Smith says. "The consumption of alcohol [at night] interferes with how the clock synchronizes itself." This is another reason that drinking in moderation during the day or early evening may be a bit less harmful than at night.
When, where, and how much you decide to drink is up to you, but drinking in moderation is the through-line, whether you have a brunch mimosa or a glass of wine before bed. "If you must drink, try to drink in moderation and avoid drinking two to three hours prior to bedtime,"
Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm's sleep health expert, tells Bustle. That is the main key to not harming your health in the long-run.