How does alcohol affect your sleep?

Alcohol is widely regarded as something which can help you fall asleep. Surely a drink or two after a long hard day will help you wind down… right?

As many as 20% of Americans use alcohol to help them sleep, but an alcohol-induced slumber is not necessarily going to help you feel rested.

1. Drinking disrupts your Sleep Cycle

After you drink, a chemical promoting sleep called adenosine is produced in the brain which contributes to you feeling drowsy and falling asleep quicker. However, this chemical subsides just as quick, meaning that you’re likely to wake up before you are fully rested.

Since alcohol is a diuretic, it encourages your body to lose excess fluid which occurs both through needing the toilet and sweating. This often leads to a broken and disrupted night’s sleep.

2. Reduces your quality of sleep

Although alcohol helps you to fall asleep, but as the night goes on you spend less and less time in deep sleep. The deep, restorative stage of sleep is known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

Due to the fact that alcohol disrupts REM sleep, it can cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration and an overall reduced quality of sleep. Furthermore, drinking alcohol regularly to help you fall asleep can lead to dependency and you will find it much harder to sleep normally.

3. Worsens breathing problems

Alcohol makes your whole body relax, including the muscles in your throat. This makes you more prone to snoring and sleep apnea (pauses in breath while sleeping).

So despite alcohol helping you to fall asleep quicker, it actually has an overall detrimental effect to your sleep by reducing it’s quality and disrupting it. This occurs especially in the latter half of the night.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, read this article on how to get a better night’s rest.

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