Does alcohol affect your sleep cycle?
Alcohol can help you fall asleep when you have only one small glass for the night, but consuming even a couple of drinks can severely affect the quality of your sleep. If you are an individual who regularly consumes alcohol, 14 units or more within a week, you can often find yourself waking up after hours of sleep feeling as if you have barely had any rest at all.
Drinking regularly can seriously affect the level of quality sleep you are receiving. You can find yourself waking up feeling tired, hungover, and somewhat sluggish. This is due to the alcohol you are consuming disrupting your sleep cycle. Heavy drinkers will often spend a longer duration of their sleep in a ‘deep sleep’ and less time in their ‘Rem sleep, which refers to our rapid eye movement sleep.’ This will leave heavy alcohol drinkers feeling exhausted no matter how much time they try to sleep or stay in bed. It has been estimated that between 35% and 70% of Americans suffer from insomnia due to alcohol consumption.
When should you stop drinking before bed?
It is vital if you want to get a good night’s sleep to stop drinking any alcoholic substance at least 4 hours before you go to sleep to prevent you from sleep disruptions. Before you go to sleep, it is highly beneficial for you to drink a glass of water and eat something small to aid the alcohol already within your body.
If you are to go out drinking, the goal is to drink in moderation and give yourself enough time before you go to sleep to allow a large amount of alcohol to exit your system.
Alcohol and sleep Apnoea
The alcoholic substance is a direct cause of disruptions without our sleeping patterns. Drinking within the late evening can significantly increase the likelihood of:
- Sleep talking
- Moving in your sleep
- Difficulties breathing, sleep apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a sleeping disorder in which the muscle with an individual’s throat relaxes whenever they go to sleep. This results in blocking your airways and momentarily stopping your breathing without you knowing for a couple of seconds. Once your brain realizes that your oxygen levels are significantly dropping, you will wake up ever so briefly, to which your muscles with then tighten back up, and you can breathe normally again. This can happen up to 30 times within one hour.
Individuals who suffer from sleep apnoea often do not realize what is happening or how frequently they are being woken up until a partner points it out to them. Due to alcohol being a depressant, it plays a significant part in causing sleep apnoea.
Alcohol and insomnia
There is a direct correlation between insomnia and heavy alcohol drinkers. When an individual drinks a substantial amount within the evening, they will not receive enough REM sleep during the night—resulting in waking up feeling completely exhausted. The most common trait is for an individual to overindulge in drinking coffee, energy drinks, or another stimulant to help you with your energy levels for the day. However, this will inevitably leave you wide away when it comes to getting back into bed going to sleep.
The daytime coffee or energy drink breaks that keep you alert during the day will be the reason you struggle to sleep at night. You then grab a glass of alcohol to help you fall asleep, resulting in you not receiving an adequate amount of REM sleep. And the cycle continues and continues.
Getting better sleep
If you want to receive a great night’s sleep, you will need to try and cut back on your alcohol consumption. Most people can have one glass of alcohol, whether wine, beer, or spirits, but we advise keeping it at one glass. However, alcohol will affect everyone differently; therefore, one drink may be too much for some.
Furthermore, only consuming coffee or energy drinks in the morning will allow you to have a peaceful night’s sleep. If you can, avoid drinking any kind of stimulant when it hits the afternoon.
Figuring out a night-time routine for you is an activity we would always advise. No phones an hour before bed, listen to white noise, turn all lamps off, write down all your thoughts in a journal. Find a pattern that works specifically to help you sleep better at night and wake up feeling refreshed.
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