How Alcohol Affects the Quality and Quantity of Sleep

A huge number of people around the globe consider alcohol consumption as some kind of a remedy that helps them fall asleep. However, studies in the past have suggested that though a little amount of alcohol may help one to fall asleep quickly, regular use of alcohol may in fact lead to serious sleep disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. Those who rely on alcohol to help sleep often find the quality and quantity of their sleep to be degrading. 

So, does alcohol help you sleep for real, or is it just one of those excuses that people make? We have therefore decided to settle the confusion once and for all in this article where we will be talking about the many ways that alcohol consumption affects our sleep.

#1 Effect on REM sleep

Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM sleep) is a set of different stages in our sleep which is known for enhancing brain activity and promoting the process of dreaming. REM sleep, which usually begins about an hour and a half after sleeping, may get disturbed after a drinking session as we know that staying asleep becomes harder as the night progresses under the influence of alcohol. If your body fails to receive a sufficient amount of REM sleep, the chances of a restorative sleep are drastically reduced and you may feel tired, lethargic, and distracted throughout the next day.

#2 Interrupted sleep cycle 

The second thing to be affected by alcohol is our body’s natural sleep cycle. Maintaining an appropriate sleep cycle is no less important than following a diet or exercising regularly. However, an interrupted sleeping cycle and the alteration of sleep-inducing hormones like melatonin and adenosine, are one of the many seriously damaging effects of alcohol. Though it is common for people to doze off quickly after a drinking session, it is very likely that such people may have to involuntarily wake up in the middle of the night once the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol start to wear off. Studies suggest that once this happens, the individual finds it extremely difficult to fall back asleep.

#3 A disorderly circadian rhythm

Our sleep-wake cycle is dependent on the circadian rhythm or the internal clock of the body which in turn is dependent on our surrounding environment. According to a 2010 study, prolonged exposure to alcohol can affect the internal clock of the body at a genetic level. Consuming alcohol too close to one’s bedtime can lead to disruption in the metabolic process which is regulated by the circadian rhythm. A disorderly circadian rhythm can not only heighten the risk of memory loss and increase anxiety but can also lead to a risk of developing obesity, liver dysfunction, reduced libido, etc. So, the next time you struggle with anxiety, consider following some easy steps to reduce anxiety rather than in taking alcohol. 

#4 Causes insomnia

Numerous studies in the past have studied the relationship between consumption of alcohol and sleep disorders. Alcohol use is known as one of the leading causes of Insomnia, which is one of the most common sleeping disorders in the world. According to data from the American Addiction Centers, individuals who are diagnosed with sleep disorders are about 5 to 10 times more likely to also have been diagnosed with alcohol use than the ones who do not have sleeping disorders. 

#5 Leads to obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is known as one of the most common forms of sleep apnea and is marked by an obstruction in the upper air passage which causes difficulty in breathing properly while asleep. Studies have proved how alcohol users have a higher risk of developing sleep disorder due to constriction of the air passage and reduced oxygen level in the blood. This can cause one to wake up several times in the night while struggling to breathe properly. 

#6 Frequent urge to urinate

It is crucial that one does not intake a large amount of liquids before retiring to bed as this may lead to an urge to urinate and end up waking you up several times during the course of your sleep. Alcohol is known as a diuretic, which means that it forces the body to release excess water from its system. Alcohol suppresses the production of vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which maintains the balance of water in the body without losing too much of it. The effect this has on older people is significantly high as they are more prone to getting up in the night and end up receiving reduced overall sleep. 

Bottom line:

Experts suggest that the negative effect of alcohol on one’s sleep is so intense that even after people quit drinking, they continue to have a poor quality of sleep due to the process of withdrawal. While relying on alcohol for falling asleep may seem like a viable option, it increases the body’s dependency on alcohol and should never be considered as a sleep aid. One should instead make some other adjustments to their sleeping environment to achieve a good night’s sleep. For starters, you can check out this compressive list of the most relaxing waterbed mattress reviews available online.

Written by Jordan

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