March 1, 2024/Wellness

Here’s Why Day Drinking Feels Different

Drinking during the day can result in drinking more than usual and worsen your sleep cycle

Couple enjoying mixed drinks during the day in a bar

When you think of grabbing a drink, you probably envision a low-lit bar or a late-night dinner. But have you ever tried (or been invited) to day drink? If so, you may have noticed that something about it makes you feel … a bit off.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Whether it’s the early-evening hangover or your body simply not being used to a midday buzz, you may feel some differences in how you react to alcohol during earlier parts of the day.

Addiction psychiatrist Akhil Anand, MD, breaks down why day drinking can feel different — and how it can impact your health.

Why day drinking feels different

Day drinking can sometimes be a part of social gatherings. Whether it’s a Fourth of July barbecue, grabbing a beer at the St. Patrick’s Day parade or tailgating with friends before the big football game, it’s clear that alcohol isn’t always reserved for after-hours.

But as Dr. Anand points out, there are certain risks to drinking during the day. Here are some things to know before toasting before 5 p.m.

Your instinct is to keep the party going

While drinking in the evening usually has a “natural” end, day drinking leaves it open-ended. This increases the risk of overdoing it. Dr. Anand says that if you start drinking earlier in the day, it’s more likely you’ll drink more. You may also feel more peer pressure when participating in day drinking if it’s associated with a celebration of some kind.

It messes with your sleep cycle

You may think that drinking earlier may give your body time to filter through the alcohol before your head hits the pillow. But in fact, day drinking can do just as much harm to your sleep schedule as drinking in the evening.


Drinking during the day can disrupt sleep cycles due to how your circadian rhythm works. “Your sleep cycle follows the sun pattern of the day,” explains Dr. Anand. “Day drinking can cause someone to feel sedated and go to sleep too early.” This can cause sleep disruptions in the middle of the night, causing you to wake up either too early or too late. And so the cycle continues.

It can affect your mood

You may have heard that drinking can cause your anxiety to increase the day after. Day drinking can cause the same symptoms, but instead of hitting you the morning after, the anxious feelings may start the same day.

Plus, as alcohol is a depressant, it’ll bring you down as intensely as it will bring you up. Also, don’t think that you’ll feel more energetic during the day versus drinking at night — you’ll still feel just as drunk no matter what time it is.

You’re at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated

Don’t forget that there are other factors impacting your well-being while you drink. Especially if the sun is beating down during an outdoor event, your body is at a higher risk for dehydration when you drink during the day.

Morning drinking may be a red flag

Having a mimosa with brunch is one thing, but as Dr. Anand explains, you should be careful when it comes to any kind of alcoholic beverage first thing in the morning. Once in a while is fine, but if you start needing a drink as soon as you start the day, it may be a sign of addiction.

And if you find that your day drinking is inching earlier and earlier into the day and if it’s becoming a common occurrence instead of an occasional celebration, you may want to consult a healthcare provider.


How to practice safe day drinking

If you do decide to partake in a drink or two during daytime celebrations, it’s still important to stay safe and be mindful of your health.

Here are some safe drinking habits to practice:

  • Alcohol shouldn’t be the first drink of the day. Again, there will be times when you may want to indulge in a brunch-related drink or an early morning tailgate, but try to make sure alcohol isn’t your first beverage. Start the day hydrated with a hefty glass of water or two and eat a balanced meal before partaking in day drinking.
  • Pace yourself. When the day is long and you’re having fun with friends, make sure to pay attention to the number of drinks you’re having. Drink enough water throughout the day and take things slow — checking in with yourself and how you feel after each drink. Remember that consuming four or more drinks a day for women and people assigned female at birth and five or more a day for men and people assigned male at birth counts as binge drinking.
  • Be wary of peer pressure. When day drinking, you’re more likely to be in public spaces with crowds (think: a concert or tailgate), which can lend itself to peer pressure to drink. Dr. Anand highlights the importance of paying attention to who you’re with and sticking to your own drinking boundaries. Maybe you have a trustworthy friend that you can check in with about how you’re feeling throughout the day. You can also pack your own nonalcoholic beverage options or waters to switch to when you’ve hit the limit you’ve set for yourself. Planning ahead and giving yourself options can help ensure you don’t overdo it.
  • Have a stop time. Give yourself a limit. While having a night out with friends may end when the bar closes, a day of afternoon drinking means you need to give yourself a hard stop. For example, if you’re starting celebrations at 3 p.m., tell yourself you’ll have your last drink no later than 5 p.m.

Remember that you should never feel pressured to drink during the day if you don’t want to. Depending on your own health, preferences and comfort level, you might decide to forgo that glass of wine or beer with friends if it feels too early for you, which is totally OK! In fact, there are a variety of nonalcoholic options you can enjoy while still celebrating a daytime event. These are also great options to turn to after you’ve had a drink or two, to help ensure you don’t overdo it when the festivities continue.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Spoonful of apple cider vinegar
March 27, 2024/Weight Loss
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?

The science on ACV isn’t very promising for weight loss or appetite suppression

Female and male waking up with hangovers in aftermath of a party
March 13, 2024/Digestive
Hangover Pills Aren’t Worth the Hype

Misleading claims, lack of scientific evidence and the risk of over-doing it are all concerns

blurred person looking out window in background with glass of wine and bottle in foreground
February 21, 2024/Brain & Nervous System
How Does Alcohol Affect Your Brain?

Even one drink can have an impact on your cognitive function leading to slurred speech, blurred vision and impaired memory

Glasses of alcohol on wooden stump outside in the snow, with bottle nearby
February 16, 2024/Wellness
Drinking Alcohol in the Cold? 5 Tips on How To Stay Safe

A cold one out in the cold can cause a false sense of warmth and increase your risk of hypothermia

Closeup of people holding up shot glasses
February 15, 2024/Digestive
What Does Alcohol Do to Your Body? 9 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health

Alcohol affects your whole body, from your liver and immune system to your brain and mental health

male with beer belly on treadmill, with giant mug of beer next to
January 1, 2024/Weight Loss
Does Beer Really Cause a ‘Beer Belly’?

Getting rid of excess abdominal fat will take more than just cutting back on cold ones

group of hands holding different beverages
November 13, 2023/Wellness
10 Myths About Drinking Alcohol You Should Stop Repeating

Coffee won’t cure a hangover and you definitely shouldn’t mix your cocktail with an energy drink

group of Gen Z friends
October 31, 2023/Mental Health
Is Generation Z Drinking Less?

The answer is ‘yes,’ with a noticeable trend toward healthier living — but there’s a caveat

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey