Coupled with a guided “Mindful Drinking Plan,” you get actionable tips to help improve various facets of your life – like sleep quality, energy levels, and overall wellness. As we approach Sober October – a month-long challenge encouraging people to abstain from alcohol – it’s a perfect time to assess our relationship with drinking. Understanding how alcohol affects the brain can do more than prepare us for the challenge.
Research shows that consuming alcohol — even in a moderate dose — an hour before bedtime can cause a notable reduction in melatonin production. Experts often suggest that people with sleep apnea avoid drinking alcohol. If abstaining from drinking completely is not realistic, it may be beneficial to reduce alcohol consumption and try to stop drinking at least a few hours before bedtime.
How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?
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. Although the results were self-reported, women said they felt more tired before bed, experienced more nighttime awakenings and recorded less sleep than their male counterparts. Alcohol can help people feel more relaxed and sleepy, but it’s also linked to poor sleep quality and duration, according to the Sleep Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit organization. Generally, the more a person drinks, the more their sleep quality suffers. Dryuary is right around the corner, and there are countless free or low-cost programs on-line to offer support and guidance to anyone wanting to take an alcohol time-out. Not drinking at all, for at least a month, is the best way to see how alcohol is affecting your life, and to decide whether it’s worth it.
Perhaps these workers have a drink or two after their shift to unwind (for restaurant employees, there is especially easy access) and head home to sleep before getting up the next day to do it all over again. To some, these may sound like purely rhetorical considerations — but let’s not kid ourselves. There are certainly people for whom a few drinks a day is the norm, and they are not necessarily the stereotypical alcoholics we often see portrayed in media. While hangovers are the most glaringly obvious residual effect of alcohol overindulgence, however, they aren’t the only one. Some sleep-promoting drinks are high in compounds like tryptophan and melatonin, while others encourage sleep by easing pain and discomfort in the evenings. Thus, almond milk is also high in compounds that may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Is It Healthy To Drink Water Before Bed?
Research from 2018 corroborates this, suggesting that people experience a lower duration and quality of REM after consuming alcohol. Older research suggests the effects on REM sleep appear to be dose related. Low and moderate doses of alcohol tend not to affect REM in the first half of sleep, while high doses of alcohol significantly reduce REM sleep reduction in the first part of sleep. An older study concluded that alcohol might reduce sleep in the first half of sleep and increase disruption in the second half.
The link between alcohol consumption and sleep impairment is especially prominent among older adults. Researchers discourage older adults — particularly men — from using alcohol as a sleep aid. Researchers believe the link between does alcohol help you sleep insomnia and alcohol consumption to be bidirectional, meaning that each contributes to the other. The substance causes sleepiness by increasing the functioning of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter.
The Relationship Between Alcohol and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
You can still enjoy social events, have fun, and be in the moment – just without the negative after-effects that excessive drinking can bring. It may help to ask a bed partner or roommate about snoring and other sleep-related breathing problems, since people with sleep apnea are not always aware of these issues. Especially for people who have sleep apnea, understanding alcohol’s effects on sleep can be an important part of optimizing lifestyle choices to promote healthier and more restful sleep. It’s easy enough to say that we should stop using alcohol as a sleep aid, or that we should consider cutting back on our drinking. One could argue that the populace is already aware of these facts and the overarching dangers of alcohol consumption.
- It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review.
- As a general rule, Meadows said, people should aim to leave at least three to four hours between drinking and sleeping to avoid sleep disruption.
- Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.
- Drinking can be especially dangerous for people with obstructive sleep apnea, who wake up many times during the night as their airways momentarily collapse.
- Consuming a sufficient amount of fluids in beverages and water-filled foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and soup) will help you maintain your energy.
- “Even if alcohol initially helps [someone] fall asleep, they may wake up many times throughout the night or not get into a deep sleep,” she continues.
Be aware that the more you’re drinking now, the longer it will take your body to truly reset and for you to feel the full impact of going without. If that feels intimidating, start smaller and see if you can add on as you move ahead. Announcing you need a drink when feeling stressed or worn out is usually met with enthusiastic agreement. Many of us take for granted that drinking eases anxiety and helps us relax in social settings or at the end of a hard day. Especially in 2020, alcohol sometimes feels like a necessary vehicle for coping with an uncertain, and often scary world.
How Does Alcohol Impact Sleep?
The neuroscience of drinking has been the subject of extensive research for decades, and there’s more to it than just the intoxicating “buzz” we feel. In addition to its potential impacts on breathing and sleep apnea, alcohol can interfere with sleep because of its effects on brain activity. Drinking alcohol close to bedtime increases the likelihood that a person will snore.
Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs. Many factors can interfere with a good night’s sleep — from work stress and family responsibilities to illnesses. Drinking to fall asleep regularly can build up a tolerance to alcohol, gradually lessening booze’s ability to help you drift off, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Drinking a light to moderate amount of alcohol (one or two standard drinks) before bed may not have much of an impact. Research shows that alcohol actually has a disruptive effect on your sleep the rest of the night and messes with sleep quality and quantity.