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The Truth About Alcohol Effects On Your Sleep

You may have a glass of wine at the end of the day in order to relieve stress or help you to sleep better. However, while alcohol may help you to fall asleep faster, even the smallest amount of alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep significantly!


We understand it. You had a long and stressful day at work. And all you can think about is how to get home faster, relax on the comfortable sofa and have a relaxing evening with a glass of wine.

It’s just one or two glasses of wine to relieve your stress, relax and make you sleep better. Unfortunately, alcohol and sleep is not the best combination. Not for your relaxation nor for your sleep!

While alcohol may help you to fall asleep faster, even the smallest amount of alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep significantly. In fact, you may wake up the next day and feel like you haven’t slept at all!

If you are a casual drinker and believer alcohol does no harm to your sleep. You may think twice!

We are happy to present you the following article that discusses the correlation between alcohol and sleep. Why alcohol before the bedtime is harmful and what you should do in order to have a good night’s sleep even if you did have a glass of wine!

What Does Alcohol Do To Your Sleep

Having a drink before going to bed indeed might help you to fall asleep faster. But does alcohol help you sleep better? Whether it comes as a surprise, or not, indeed alcohol worsens the quality of your sleep.

According to Christian Nicholas, after a glass of wine your sleep becomes more restless. C. Nicholas and his colleagues conducted a research at the University of Melbourne. They researched whether consuming alcohol before bedtime has any effects on our sleep.

While most of us hold an opinion that alcohol helps us to fall asleep faster. The research was to find out how the brain physiologically reacts to the alcohol while you sleep.

The experiment took place with a total of 24 participants aged 18 to 21 years old. As an interesting fact, for the sake of an experiment all of the students spent several nights at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences Sleep Laboratory.

Everynight they received different drinks. Some nights they received a glass of mix with orange juice and vodka. The other days they would consume orange juice with a straw dipped in vodka only.

Therefore, they were allowed to go to bed at their normal bedtimes. The difference was, their heads were dotted with electrodes. Electrodes were to measure participants sleeping brainwave patterns.

In fact, effects of alcohol on sleep are enormous. The research shows that after drinking, both of alpha and delta waves are working at the same time.

Delta waves clear your memory in order for your mind to rest. It is also known as restorative activity of the brain. During delta waves the memories are firmed up, brain’s detritus is cleared out and neurons get a well deserved replenishment.

On the other hand, alpha waves activity occurs when you are awake. It happens when you are awake and your brain is quietly resting. It is also called as metabolic break mode.

In fact, both delta and alpha waves working together is equal to disrupted sleep! It happens because alpha waves offset the restorative functions that delta waves are trying to achieve!

Shockingly, such a brain activity is normally seen in the people who suffer from chronic pain conditions!

“People tend to feel that alcohol helps them fall asleep a little quicker, and therefore people associated that with helping them sleep,” C. Nicholas explains. “But when you actually go and look at what is happening while they sleep, the quality of that sleep isn’t good.”

Therefore, the study finds that this kind of alpha-delta brain activities during your sleep time has effects on how you feel the day after. In fact, it is linked to drowsiness, restfulness and symptoms like headaches and irritability.

It definitely doesn’t mean that you should not have alcohol at all. Occasionally, to have a glass of wine is completely fine. C. Nicholas explains “But if somebody is doing this night after night after night, the effects can be cumulative, not only for alcohol use but on sleep disruption as well”.

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Alcohol Effects On Your Sleep Cycle

Alcohol and sleep correlation can therefore disrupt your whole sleep cycle. Most importantly, alcohol use before bedtime can disrupt your NREM sleep.

NREM sleep is also known as non-rapid eye movement sleep or dreamless sleep! In fact, NREM sleep covers all of the first three stages of your sleep cycle! During NREM sleep your heart rate normalizes, your breathing becomes regular and you are slowly falling into a deep sleep.

For an interesting fact, NREM sleep takes up 75 percent of your who night’s sleep! Another 25 percent of your night you are deep sleeping. Deep sleep also known as rapid-eye movement sleep or REM sleep.

During REM sleep you experience a deep sleep. It’s the stage where the most dreams occur, and memories are stored.

Does alcohol help you sleep? It certainly helps to fall asleep faster. However, you will be intrigued to understand what alcohol actually does to your sleep cycle!

In fact, after consuming alcohol you are faster going into REM sleep! This means, you skip all of the first three stages of NREM sleep and immediately fall into a deep sleep!

According to Dr. John Shneerson, your body restores itself during deep sleep and alcohol may interfere with this. At the same time, once the alcohol starts to wear off, you can come out of deep sleep and go back to NREM sleep.

In fact, transiting from REM sleep into NREM sleep makes it much easier to wake up from. It therefore explains why alcohol and sleep combination results in sleeping fewer hours and waking up earlier!

In some cases, alcohol and sleep can lead to sleep disturbances such as insomnia. Interestingly, it works other way around too. Some people with insomnia use alcohol to help them sleep better!

In fact, using alcohol as a sleep aid may result in alcohol independence. Also, if you rely on alcohol to fall asleep, you’re much likely to sleepwalk, sleep talk, and to have memory problems.

It is important to note, having six to seven cycles of NREM sleep makes you feel refreshed and well rested the day after. Alcohol use the day before, will result in having only one or two cycles of NREM sleep. It means you end up feeling exhausted once you wake up.

The medical director Irshaad Ebrahim concludes that alcohol may help you to fall asleep faster. However, after alcohol use your sleep will be extremely disrupted, especially during the second half of the night.

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Alcohol And Sleep Apnea

You wonder how does alcohol affect sleep? Alcohol and sleep combination has a direct link to sleep apnea!

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder when you repeatedly stop breathing for a few seconds during your sleep. It occurs when your throat muscles relaxes to the extent that you block your airway. The most noticeable symptom of alcohol and sleep apnea is snoring.

Alcohol can cause you to snore louder because alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and you start to breathe harder to push the air. Even if you never snore, alcohol and sleep apnea and closely related. And in fact, you may snore the night after the drinking!

For an interesting fact, we experience hangovers partially because of disrupted breathing while asleep!

Alcohol Effects On The Bladder

Have you ever had a feeling that you go to the toilet more often during the night if you had drinks the evening before? Indeed, alcohol and sleep can be interfered with alcohol effects on the bladder.

As a matter of fact, alcohol reduces the production of a hormone called vasopressin. The task of this hormone is to give signal to the kidneys to reabsorb fluids rather then flush it out thought the bladder. Without this hormone your kidneys stop receiving the signals and thus your bladder fills up really quick!

Therefore, your body is encouraged to lose extra fluids by sweating. In fact, getting rid of the extra fluids is not the only reason you have to go to the toilet so often!

Alcohol has diuretic features. Diuretic is designed to make your expel more water and fluids through urine. In fact, after drinking your kidneys make you pee more than you drank. That’s why you often wake up sweaty and dehydrated after a night of drinking.

As an interesting fact, when you drink alcohol and you go to the bathroom for the first time. It is because your body needs to flush out the fluids. However, the second time you go to the bathroom is because of the diuretic effect!

Alcohol and sleep is in fact causing negative effects on your bladder. Firstly, because of the fluids that need to be flushed out. And secondly alcohol enables the diuretic effects on your body!

Alcohol Can Cause Insomnia

The effects of alcohol on sleep can cause you insomnia. Thus, alcohol and sleep interference can cause you several sleep disturbances, including feeling restless and powerless.

Alcohol has a huge impact on your sleep homeostasis. Sleep homeostasis is your basic principles of sleep regulation. Your body balances the need for sleep in accordance of how long you have been awake and measures it by adenosine.

When you have a drink, your body promotes the levels of adenosine to go up. It blocks the wake-promoting cells and makes you fall asleep easier. When you go to sleep earlier than usual, it results a shift in your sleep cycle.

Later in the night, your adenosine levels go down again. It therefore activates the wake-promoting cells. It causes you waking up in the middle of the night and not feeling sleepy again.

Researchers from the University of Missouri health investigated the effect of alcohol and sleep. The results show that after the extended period of regular drinking the participants fell asleep very quickly. However, within a few hours of sleep they woke up and insomnia had set in. In fact, the participants found it very difficult to return to sleep.

As a matter of fact, people who experience alcoholism and those who are trying to stop. Both groups have extreme difficulties in maintaining sleep and mostly sleep in fragments. Insomnia is therefore a symptom of withdrawal when trying to stop.

Extensive alcohol drinkers experience a lot of alcohol and sleep interference. Both NREM and REM sleep cycles are reduced and they feel as if they don’t sleep at night at all.

It therefore can cause insomnia or other sleep problems in a long run. Also, It takes a long time to return to normal sleep after you stopped drinking.

Top Five Expert Tips For Having Your Drink And Sleeping Later

We finally learnt all about how alcohol affects your sleep. However, we are still wondering how can I have a glass of wine in the evening without disrupting my whole sleep cycle?

Although alcohol and sleep is not the best combination. You can still learnt top five tips from the sleeping experts on how to enjoy your drink and take care of you good night’s sleep all together!

  • Try to drink and snack at the same time. However, eating and drinking can slow down the hit of the alcohol. Thus, it is important to watch your alcohol intake.
  • Allow 3 to 4 hours between having a glass of wine and hitting the sheets!
  • Never have a drop of alcohol when taking sleep pills!
  • Use the ‘two for one’ rule. The rule is you should have one glass of water for every two alcoholic drinks.
  • Try to cut down the fizzy and carbonated mixes. It makes you gassy and allows the alcohol to absorb faster!

Alcohol and sleep can be quite conflicting each other. It is scientifically proven that alcohol disrupts your sleep and makes you feel sleepless and drizzy the day after. However, if you still would like to enjoy a glass of wine when meeting your friends. Try to use the top 5 tricks on how to control your alcohol intake and feel fresh the day after!

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