How Alcohol Impacts Your Sleep

It is a common misconception among a large number of people around the world that taking alcohol before bedtime can improve their sleep quality. Not only is this belief harmful for your sleep but also for your overall health.

Sleeping holding a bottle of booze

It is true that a little amount of alcohol can in fact help you doze off quickly, but several studies have shown how this affects the later part of your sleep and may even lead certain to sleep disorders. In this article, we are going to list a number of ways in which alcohol can affect the quality and quantity of your sleep.

1. Irregular Circadian Rhythm

An irregular circadian rhythm as a result of alcohol consumption is one of the most common problems that can affect your sleep quality. Our natural sleep-wake cycle is regulated by the body’s circadian rhythm which in turn is controlled by the natural clock in the body. Those who rely on alcohol as a sleep aid are often unknowingly altering the production melatonin and adenosine in the body. While a reduced amount of melatonin means less overall sleep, increased adenosine levels can cause untimely sleepiness and disturb the sleep-wake cycle.

2. Disrupted REM Sleep

REM Sleep
REM Sleep

Alcohol is notorious for disrupting the REM (Random Eye Movement) sleep which is crucial for restorative sleep and regulating the parts of the brain essential for learning, dreaming and processing memory. We have already learnt how alcohol can affect the later part of one’s sleep, REM sleep which usually begins about an hour and half after sleeping is thus affected as well.

3. Affects Sleep Schedule

One of the foremost ways of improving your nighttime sleep is to follow a proper schedule where you wake up and go to bed everyday around the exact same time. Constant disturbance to the body’s hormones and internal clock along with a lack of REM sleep means that you experience drowsiness, grogginess and tiredness throughout the day. All this can seriously affect your body’s ability to naturally fall asleep at the same time every day.

4. Increased Toilet Trips

You might have noticed how your trips to toilet multiply after every session of drinking. This frequent urge to urinate is not just because of the extra liquid that goes into your body but also because of the diuretic effect of alcohol. Alcohol which is a natural diuretic can not only disturb your sleep in the night but can also cause dehydration due to the heavy loss of water.

5. Insomnia

How alcohol impacts your sleep
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According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, alcohol can lead to disturbed sleep and chronic insomnia, a major sleep disorder. Prolonged effect of insomnia can cause a number of health problems that can deplete the physical and mental health of a person. Researchers have often shown that a large number of individuals suffering from poor sleep quality also happen to be habitual drinkers.

6. Sleep Apnea

Several studies have shown how alcohol is directly responsible for causing sleep apnea, a condition where the body has difficulty regulating breathing while sleeping.  Alcohol can also adversely affect the blood oxygen level by killing the oxygen carrying red blood cells. Added to that, narrowing of air passages that lead to snoring are also responsible for irregular breathing and reduced ability to maintain the normal breathing rate.

7. Worsens Snoring

Nobody want to sleep around a person who snores as disturbance from noise is a crucial factor that is responsible for disrupting someone’s sleep. Alcohol’s ability to relax muscles can cause obstruction in the airways by constricting the muscles around the throat. The more someone drinks, higher are the chances of the person snoring while asleep.

8. Leads to Alcohol Dependency

According to the website, up to 35% of people in the US deal with some form of insomnia while around 20% rely on alcohol as a sleep aid. While in reality, not only is alcohol preventing you from achieving deep sleep, but it is also slowly making you grow dependent on it for quickly falling asleep. Even this effect of alcohol weakens with time as you grow older which means that you need to take much more of this liquid with time to fall asleep. Alcohol should therefore never be considered as something that can help you sleep better.

Bottom line

There are a number of different ways in which you can increase the quality and quantity of your sleep, but taking alcohol is not one among them. A good diet, a sleep schedule, exercising, maintaining a good posture and picking a good mattress are some of the easy and proven ways to help you sleep better.

The InsideBedroom contains a massive collection of such comfortable mattresses and beddings that help improve your sleep quality. However, if you absolutely do have to drink at times, make sure that it is so small as to not affect your sleep and at least six hours before bedtime.

Interesting related article: “How your mattress can affect your sleep.”