In hindsight, this was the biggest problem with alcohol

Alexei Sorokin
4 min readFeb 23, 2024

My sleep ‘hygiene’ is still bad — I wake up in the middle of the night and scroll through my phone. So my sleep hasn’t dramatically improved since I abandoned alcohol several months ago.

My physical health is as it’s always been. I run every day and if I improve, it’s mostly because of my training, not because of having removed my 2–3 drinks in the evening. I never drank to the degree of impairing my running, which is my life’s biggest passion. I don’t doubt that over the long horizon, I will be a better athlete if I don’t drink. In the short term, however, there is no dramatic boost to my physical shape.

I’ve eliminated several hours spent feeling fatigued because of alcohol. It’s not merely fatigue; it’s a state of relaxation and unfocusedness. That’s precisely why people drink — to unwind. Whenever I indulged in a drink, usually in the evening, I found it difficult to be productive for the rest of the day, which is perfectly okay, by the way. You don’t always have to be productive. Now, I have more hours in the day when my mind is clear. I can work or I can write. However, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve not become more productive. My business or career have not taken off, at least not yet. I still struggle with focus during the day and finding opportunities that I am truly excited about and can consistently pursue with consistent effort.

Mental health — this is where I am sensing the biggest change. But it’s not mental health. It’s mental strength. It’s the sense of having a stable identity that’s not subject to unnecessary turbulence or anxiety.

Let me try to explain. I woke up in the middle of the night today, as I mentioned. It’s common for many people to experience anxiety when waking up at night. I found myself thinking about the various challenges I’m currently facing. I’m responsible for a large family, and it feels like I’m in a state of constant underperformance or failure, especially because of my mid-career struggles.

It’s never a pleasant state of mind — this worrying. But there is much less anxiety compared to when I drank. It’s not just about worrying about things. What happens when you drink is that over a short period, your identity is completely overhauled. You’re calm and de-stressed, and you even have new ideas. They are not necessarily bad ideas. You start seeing your life in a different color. Maybe you’re seeing more colors or less — it’s hard to come up with an…

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Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day. https://runningwritingliving.substack.com/