Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) spoke to groups of friends across the city about their drinking habits.
And the results show women are more sensible at knowing when "enough is enough".
Dr Carol Emslie, Leader of the Substance Use and Misuse Research Group, in Glasgow Caledonian University's Institute for Applied Health Research, co-authored the report. She said: "This research was an attempt to learn more about the sensations, feelings and emotions people experience when they consume alcohol in midlife.
"When we asked participants about how they controlled the amount they drank, they described monitoring changes in their bodies, rather than counting units of alcohol.
"Health promotion could build on our findings by focusing on 'sobering moments."
Groups of people aged 30 to 50 were asked about their drinking habits. Researchers found women in the study were more likely than men to say they stopped drinking when they realised they had had enough.
The study "Staying 'in the zone' but not passing the 'point of no return': Embodiment, gender and drinking in mid-life", has been published in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness.
Dr Antonia Lyons, Massey University, New Zealand was the lead author on the paper. She added: "The alcohol industry has been very successful in linking alcohol consumption to reward and relaxation for daily coping among both men and women at mid-life.
"Our findings contribute to understanding the experiential processes involved in reducing drinking to avoid the unpleasant sensations of frequent and excessive consumption."