If you’ve ever drunk alcohol, you’ll be only too aware of the fact that it can make you very drowsy. You might think, therefore, that a glass of wine or a beer before bed will help you sleep. However, how true is this? In this article, we take a look at the facts on how alcohol affects the quantity and quality of your sleep.
When you’ve been drinking, and end up going to bed with alcohol in your system, you might think you’re in for a good night’s sleep. In fact, around 20 percent of Americans tend to use alcohol to help them get some rest at night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
However, alcohol can impact the following aspects of your sleep, including your:
Alcohol is also known to affect your circadian rhythm. Although when you drink, you tend to quickly fall asleep, you’re also more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. This is due to alcohol affecting the normal production of chemicals in your body triggering sleepiness. After you’ve been drinking, the production of the sleep-inducing chemical in your brain, adenosine, increases, so you sleep quickly. However, this rapidly subsides, and you’re therefore far more likely to wake up before you’ve had a good rest.
Gender Differences. If you’re a woman, you absorb more alcohol than your male friends. This is due to the fact that women have less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. So, if a man and a woman drink the same amount drink for drink, the female builds up a higher concentration of alcohol, thus impacting her sleep quality.
The morning after. When you take a drink before you go to bed, you’re likely to wake up with some degree of exhaustion and grogginess. Enjoying an alcoholic drink before bedtime makes you wake up feeling unrefreshed as you’ve no doubt spent the night waking up from time to time.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, taking a drink can decrease your levels of melatonin. This is the hormone that’s responsible for regulating your internal clock, so if you’re an alcoholic, you can sometimes get your nights and days mixed up.
If you wake up feeling terrible after a night on the booze, there are various ways to reduce the symptoms you’re experiencing. You need to focus on hydrating your body, although the best practice is to have drunk lots of water before going to bed in the first place.
You can take over-the-counter painkillers to help with your headache, and sugary food can help you feel less shaky. Try drinking easily digestible vegetable soup to replace your vitamins and minerals, and do your best to avoid drinking more alcohol to ease the effects you’re feeling as this will just delay your recovery.
With all of the above in mind, it’s a good idea to refrain from drinking at least three to four hours before you intend to go to bed, so your body has some time to adjust, and to get ready for sleep.
If you’ve found yourself in the habit of taking a nightcap to get to sleep at night, there are others ways of getting a good night’s rest. These include:
Having a drink from time to time can be an enjoyable experience, and through following the advice above, you can ensure you enjoy alcohol without your sleep suffering.
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