Author: Gary Jackson

Does Alcohol Help You Sleep? No, Sleep Expert Explains Why

Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but that doesn’t mean you should reach for a glass of wine before bed. Depending on how much you drink and how close to bedtime you drink it, alcohol can mess with your sleep in a number of ways. People’s tolerance to alcohol as a sleep aid rapidly increases, leading to insomnia and alcohol dependence. Drinking alcohol can disrupt the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep, an important, restorative stage of deep sleep during which dreaming occurs.

If you drink when your energy is naturally rising (like in the early evening), alcohol may be more stimulating and increase how long it takes to fall asleep. A newer study found that one dose of alcohol had no effect on the circadian rhythm in rodents. However, the researchers proposed that perhaps these effects on the circadian rhythm are only seen after several consecutive days of alcohol consumption. In support of the alcohol-melatonin connection, researchers have noticed that individuals suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal tend to have less pronounced melatonin levels and release. The circadian rhythm also plays an important role in kidney function. While your internal clock regulates the kidney’s release of electrolytes and works to filter fluids, alcohol inhibits these processes.

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People with alcohol dependence or going through alcohol withdrawal may experience reduced deep sleep and insomnia. And, unfortunately, insomnia is the most frequent complaint among alcoholics when they give up drinking. Even if alcohol helps you feel drowsy, you can develop a tolerance to the sedating effects.

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  • We all know someone who feels merry following their first drink and we know others who appear unfazed by pint after pint.
  • Alcohol will undoubtedly help to send you off to sleep as it actually works on the same receptors in the brain that are targeted by some sleeping tablets.
  • When you don’t get enough sleep, you build up sleep debt and this can tank your energy levels.
  • Drinking too much is likely to have the opposite effect and leave you feeling groggy and possibly hungover the next day.
  • The best way to ensure alcohol doesn’t mess with your sleep is to avoid it altogether.

As part of this 24-hour cycle, the body releases a hormone called melatonin to prepare us for sleep in the evening. Older studies have found that drinking alcohol before bedtime lowers melatonin levels and interferes with core body temperatures, which in turn impacts sleep quality. However, while alcohol may hasten the sandman, it can negatively impact sleep quality. For example, people who’ve had alcohol may experience more frequent periods of lighter sleep or being awake, especially during the second half of the night. So after a few drinks, you’re likely to have increased wakefulness and more light sleep.

Disrupted sleep cycle

No wonder addiction feeds off this debilitating cycle and insomnia in young adults prevails. Like all things alcohol-related, it’s about moderation and knowing your limits. Too much alcohol can affect your sleep but you may benefit from a small drink before bed. Women’s sleep is more disturbed by alcohol than men’s, Meadows said. In a 2011 study published in the journal Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, men and women consumed the same amount of alcohol before going to bed.

  • Alcohol has biphasic effects, meaning some of its impacts have two phases, such as stimulating and sedating.
  • Because alcohol is highly calorific, drinking too much means that your body is suddenly faced with having to burn off these additional calories.
  • Each sleep stage plays an essential function, but deep sleep and REM sleep are considered the most important stages for physical and mental restoration.
  • Drinking a light to moderate amount of alcohol (one or two standard drinks) before bed may not have much of an impact.
  • If you turn to booze to help you snooze, you could be messing with the quality of your sleep.