Sure, that last beer or glass of wine before bedtime may help you fall asleep. However, it can deprive you of a decent night’s sleep, or worse, trigger some difficult sleep disorders.
What Effect Does Alcohol Have on Sleep?
According to research, alcohol can help you sleep faster as it’s a depressant. The benefits fade rapidly, though, as your body works to rid the alcohol from the system.
One explanation for insomnia after consuming alcohol is that the generation of adenosine (a hormone in the brain that works as a sleep inducer) surges while drinking, helping you to fall asleep quicker. This chemical soon diminishes, increasing your chances of waking up during the night.
Drinking before bedtime is also associated with slower-wave sleep patterns known as delta activity. Alpha activity, which signals awareness with eyes shut and frequently precedes sleep, is activated at the same time. It is thought that encountering these two brain waves simultaneously inhibits quality rest.
Furthermore, alcohol decreases the REM sleep stage. This is widely regarded as the most cognitively restorative part of sleep.
How to Drink and Sleep Safely
So, should you quit drinking for good in order to have a decent night’s sleep? Well, no. You can still have a drink, but there are a few precautions you should take to lower the odds of disrupting your sleep:
- Allow at least three hours after your last glass before going to bed.
- Drink alcohol with water to help flush the alcohol out of your system.
- Drink alcohol while eating a meal.
- Limit your intake to one or two drinks.
- Avoid alcohol if you’re using sleeping medications.
Reducing or stopping alcohol use before bed would likely be enough to offset the harmful effects on your slumber and considerably improve your overall health. However, you should consult a sleep specialist if you continue to experience sleep problems. If you have more questions about alcohol and sleep, WFMC Health is happy to discuss your concerns. Schedule a telehealth or in-person appointment today.