Alcohol's Effect on a Good Night's Sleep

Think having a nightcap to relax helps you sleep? Think again.

Alcohol may help you fall asleep but at what cost?

Although a drink close to bedtime may help to relax you and help fall asleep more quickly studies show it can have negative effects on later sleep cycles. Drinking alcohol stimulates the body to produce adenosine (a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain) which helps accelerate falling asleep. However, this upsets the bodies normal chemical processes and can wear off quickly thus causing you to wake up earlier or in the middle of the night before you are well-rested.

Alcohol is not good for REM sleep

Alcohol can particularly effect the quality and duration of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is when you dream and it is when your body restores itself. Lack of good REM sleep can lead to daytime drowsiness, lack of concentration, depression, weight gain and moodiness. Lack of REM sleep can also cause increased sleep walking, sleep talking and loss of memory.

Alcohol, sleep apnea and snoring

Because alcohol relaxes your whole body a couple drinks close to bedtime can increase your chances of sleep apnea and snoring. And of course, drinking alcohol before bed may lead to extra trips to the bathroom at night further interrupting your sleep.

Trouble sleeping consult your doctor first

If you’re having trouble sleeping talk to a doctor. They can help rule out more serious causes of sleep loss like sleep apnea.

Once cleared hear are some tips for better sleep.

  • Get regular exercise but not close to bed time.
  • Have regular wake and bed times
  • Turn the temperature down at night. Cool temperatures help you fall into a deeper more restful sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar and other stimulants in the evening close to bedtime.
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex only. Avoid using devices or watching TV in bed.

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"Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night." --  William Blake