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40 Ways Life Gets Worse After 40

If you think it's all downhill from here, you might be onto something.

If you're approaching 40, get ready to bombarded by people eager to tell you just how great the impending decade is going to be. From soaring confidence to improved career prospects, people love to espouse the many virtues of the so-called "fabulous forties." However, the reality for most of us is a lot less rosy.

In fact, 40 is often the start of a precipitous drop-off in our quality of life, from those aches and pains you just can't shake to that awkward feeling when you're clearly the oldest person in a room. If you're convinced that life gets worse after 40, you might be right—and we've rounded up the reasons why. And even if your over-40 future looks bleak, you can still improve your fashion game with these 15 Killer Style Accessories You Never Knew You Needed.

Your hangovers are all-day events

sleep after 40

Those hangovers you got at 20 were a pain that could be solved with some headache medicine and electrolytes. By 30, they were enough to knock you off your game and resign you to a day of Netflix-watching from bed. At 40, hangovers can wipe out a whole weekend in one fell swoop, making you feel like you've been hit by a vodka truck as you once again swear off alcohol for good.

Aches and pains come and don't go away

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In your 20s and 30s, a bump or strained muscle was likely to annoy you for a day, but disappear as quickly as it arrived. At 40, those aches and pains come and sometimes stick around for weeks—or, worse yet, they don't get better at all. And for ways to make the most of that check-up, discover The 10 Secrets for Maximizing any Doctor's Visit.

Those reading glasses are no longer optional


Those cute glasses you bought a decade ago are no longer a sometimes accessory at 40. In fact, trying to read a book or menu without them has now become comically challenging. And yes, those lenses will only continue to get thicker.

Under-eye circles can no longer get covered by concealer

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While you used to be able to ditch those dark circles with a dot or two of concealer, over 40, even makeup so thick it's technically classified as spackle won't touch them. And when you want a brighter future on the horizon, check out The 40 Best Ways to Conquer Your 40s.

Your metabolism suddenly quits

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Remember those days when you could eat a whole pizza for dinner and wake up the next morning without having gained an ounce? Yeah, they're not coming back. But that doesn't mean you need to give up. You can still Make Your 40s Your Most Healthiest Decade Yet. 

"Ma'am" or "Sir" are now your title from anyone under 30

shocked man yellow background

It used to be a shock to your system whenever you heard someone call you "ma'am" or "sir." Now hearing either one is basically just like hearing someone say your name.

There's never enough sleep to make you feel rested

Man falling asleep while driving

Eight hours of sleep used to leave you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Now, even if you can manage to get even close to that amount of sleep, you still wake up feeling like you only got a few hours of shut-eye. And when you're ready to enjoy a better night's rest, start with these 20 Nighttime Habits Guaranteed to Help You Sleep Better.

Nothing at the mall is designed for your age group

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You used to be able to walk into virtually any store and find something that would look great on you. Now, you're suddenly confronted by a maze of ripped jeans, crop tops, and intentionally hole-filled flannels that feel like poor uses of your hard-earned money.

People start assuming you don't know how to use technology

man on phone shock surprise

Even if you have a smartphone in hand and a job in computer science, as soon as you hit 40, people will suddenly assume that all of your technological knowledge has gone out the window. Try to buy a new laptop and you'll immediately be bombarded with suggestions about how to make the typeface larger and lessons on where you go to check your email.

Your fertility declines fast

pregnant women

Thinking of trying to have a family in your 40s? It might not be as simple as you think. While your fertility begins to decline in your 30s, over 40 it really takes a nosedive. In fact, you only have a 40 to 50 percent chance of conceiving in a year if you're over 40.

You start finding handfuls of hair falling out

crazy body facts

You used to find a few hairs in your brush. Now, you run your hand through your hair and you end up with a handful of it. In fact, by age 50, 85 percent of men have hair that's thinned out significantly, according to the American Hair Loss Association.

Supplements are no longer optional

Bromelain Supplements

Taking a multivitamin used to be more than enough to keep your body running like clockwork. Now that you've hit 40, however, you're taking a handful of pills every day—one for your skin, one for your eyesight, one for your heart health, and, of course, that multivitamin to top it off.

Those wrinkles aren't budging

man looking in the mirror for wrinkles

What you used to call "fine lines" are now full-fledged wrinkles. Worse yet, all the anti-aging products in the world aren't touching them.

The weather exacerbates everything that ails you

Black umbrella movie cliches

Too hot? Your allergies act up. Too cold? Your shoulder aches. Once you've hit 40, virtually any change in weather can suddenly turn your body into a mess of aches and pains.

The raises eventually stop


Those raises you used to count on virtually every year? Yeah, don't count on them anymore. According to PayScale, women's earnings tend to peak at 39 and men's earnings peak at 48.

Your usual exercise routine no longer yields results

feel heel running tying shoes

An occasional run used to be all you needed to keep your body in shape. Now, if you're not jogging 15 miles every morning and doing CrossFit at night, you can't even button your jeans.

Sex takes some preparing for

Couple Making Eye Contact in Bed Romance

Sex used to be an activity you'd be happy to do whenever and wherever. In your 40s, however, between a lack of sleep, a lagging libido, busy schedules, and those ever-persistent aches and pains, it takes a little bit more effort to get things going.

Gray hair is virtually inevitable

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By the time you're in your 40s, it feels like you find a new gray hair every day. In fact, one study reveals that 74 percent of people between 45 and 65 have more than a few grays.

You start to need medications for issues you never knew your body even had

Illegal drug pills for the future

A decade ago, you didn't know the difference between HDL and LDL, and you couldn't locate your rotator cuff to save your life. Today, you're suddenly in need of medication for countless body parts and other issues you never even knew your body could develop.

Depression and anxiety tend to peak

sad man Bad Dating Marriage Tips

Think your 40s are going to be free of those blues that plagued you in your 20s and 30s? Think again. In fact, researchers at the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College found that depression tends to peak at 44.

Your chances of ever "getting discovered" are pretty much done

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Two decades ago, a good night at karaoke or getting your picture on the Jumbotron at a baseball game felt like potential opportunities for finally getting your big break. At 40, sadly, that ship has definitely sailed.

Your skin has gone from "freckled" to "spotted"

age spots, look younger

The adorable freckles that used to dot your nose and cheeks? Yeah, they're just called "age spots" now.

Your skin starts to lose elasticity

using retinol can get rid of wrinkles

Wrinkles and age spots aren't the only skin woes you have to look forward to in your 40s. A distinct loss of elasticity also means that parts of your body you didn't even know could sag will start to do just that.

Those people in arthritis medication commercials look like you

stop judging women over 40

Those happy, active adults in arthritis commercials who are still going on long bike rides and taking dancing lessons, despite their formerly debilitating pain? They could be your peers.

You don't recognize any of the songs on the radio

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Turn on the radio. If you're over 40, odds are the only songs you'll recognize are the ones your kids make you play over and over from Spotify—but you still probably couldn't name the artist.

Your clothes fall into two categories: too young and too tight

80s Jokes

With your lagging metabolism and those new gray hairs, all of your clothes suddenly seem wrong on you. Unfortunately, the clothes in most stores don't seem like better options, either.

Your usual cosmetics are suddenly out of the question

best skin

Your go-to makeup routine suddenly becomes out of the question when you're in your 40s. That winged eyeliner emphasizes your crow's feet, mineral foundation settles into your fine lines, and setting powders look like pancake makeup on your suddenly-dry skin.

Middle-aged now refers to you

40 compliments

"Middle-aged" used to seem like such a scary term to you. Now, when you hear someone talk about middle-aged people, they're talking about folks your age—or younger.

You're suddenly the oldest person at a bar

essential dating tips for men over 40
luckyraccoon / Shutterstock

Look around you the next time you head out to your favorite bar. If you realize that you're a solid decade older than most of the other patrons, buckle up: this is going to keep happening—a lot.

Everything is either too loud or you can't hear it at all

old man listening to music, things old people say

It may seem like hearing loss happens to people who are way older than you, but odds are you'll be experiencing some by the time you're in your 40s. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, 30 percent of women and 32 percent of men start to experience hearing loss between 40 and 59. Or, of course, you could also develop that hyper-sensitivity to sound that seems to plague many older adults and suddenly become that guy who's always asking DJs to turn it down a little.

You start waking up earlier—and have no choice in the matter

woman waking up punctual stressed out

Those days of sleeping in? You can kiss them goodbye. The older you get, the earlier your wake-ups tend to be, no matter what time you got to sleep the night before.

Mid-life crises are all too real

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Think mid-life crises are just excuses to buy sports cars? Think again. When you hit your 40s, don't be surprised if every decision you've made, from your job to your choice not to marry your college sweetheart suddenly feels like a devastatingly bad one.

Here come the cougar comments

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If you're a woman over 40 and you're dating someone even five years younger, you're officially going to be billed a cougar. Even if you only go on one date with a younger guy, the label will stick for years.

Your back hurts for no good reason

man kidney function

One of most annoying things about being over 40? Your back hurts. Not a little, not occasionally, but all the time, and a lot.

You definitely know someone who died

Dead Man in Morgue Facts about Life

Sad though it may be, by the time you're in your 40s, chances are you know someone who died. And when your friends or family members get serious illnesses, you're always a little worried they might not bounce back from them.

You're suddenly at the doctor constantly

Doctor Checking Woman's Lungs

You used to go to the doctor once a year for a routine physical. Now, you feel like you're there practically every day for something or another, thanks to the laundry list of maladies that seem to be afflicting you out of the blue.

The only place you're not growing more hair is your head

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In your 40s, odds are the only places you're sprouting a lot of new hair are pretty weird. Hello, back hair, toe hair, nose hair, and ear hair—now, how are we supposed to deal with you again?

Your favorite songs are now played on the oldies station

queen Elizabeth's wedding was radio broadcast to millions

There are few moments in a 40-something's life more depressing than turning on the radio and realizing that one of your favorite songs is playing on the oldies station. That's right: Prince sounds as dated to your kids as The Everly Brothers did to you growing up.

You need a full-fledged skincare routine just to wake up looking alive

40 things only women over 40 know

You used to be able to do little more than splash some cold water on your face before you went to work in the morning or got into bed at night. Now, your skincare routine involves a long list of products, from toner to neck cream, all of which you need to maintain any semblance of normalcy.

50 is well within sight

birthday cupcake

Perhaps the worst thing about being in your 40s? The fact that 50's just a few years away. If turning 40 hit you like a ton of bricks, just you wait. And if you want some inspiration for entering the next decade looking and feeling great, check out these 50 Amazing Over-40 Bodies.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more