That thing where you look at your phone as you order a third round of drinks and realize it's only 8 p.m.? That's been happening to me a lot lately.

I'm not having a "Emily, do we need to talk about something?" moment. It's just that when I've been going out lately, I've been going out (and packing it in) early.

It's partially out of a realistic fear that, should I go home first, I'll put on stretchy pants and never leave the house again. Give me too long to relax and it's over. This object needs to stay in motion.

The other perk to this early bird special of a social life? I can go out, snack some snacks, drink some drinks, chat some chats and be in bed by 11 p.m. with a solid four hours of partying under my belt. Look at it this way: You're putting in the same face time as a typical 9 p.m.-1 a.m. adventure, but with the added bonus of tucking in a full night of sleep and being coherent in the morning. Hell, stay out an hour later than you expect and you'll still clock in plenty of shut-eye.

Drink a little too much? The earlier you leave, the earlier your hangover is going to hit. The earlier your hangover hits, the earlier you get over it. Right? Right?

I can point to at least three recent conversations where, realizing we're feeling fully socialized and ready to head home at 10 p.m., my friends have declared, "Why can't this be the way everyone drinks???"

True, it means a few less run-ins with those Irish exchange students at the Wrigleyville McDonald's at 5:30 a.m. A few less exchanges with the upstairs neighbors heading to their early shifts. A few less brunches where you're wearing really inappropriate footwear. And I'll miss those times.

This isn't to say that I'll never be out past midnight again. I know better than to think that during a Chicago summer. But when it comes to my usual nights out, the time frame has shifted, and I'm not hating it. Sometimes you just have to admit that you really, really like sleeping and move on with your life.

I don't know, you guys. Maybe I have mono.

Emily Van Zandt is a RedEye reporter. The same theories apply to all-weekend day drinking. evanzandt@tribune.com | @redeyedrinks