Is Alcohol Affecting Your Sleep?

Alcohol helps you sleep, right?  Yes, it is true that alcohol does help you sleep, or rather it often helps you fall asleep, but what it doesn’t do is help you sleep well.

When you fall asleep quickly, through the use of alcohol, you missing out on the usual first stage of sleep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement).  In a normal night you would usually experience several cycles of REM, but when you have been drinking it could be just one or two.  This lack of REM can lead to you feeling exhausted.

Given that REM is a sleep state easier to wake from than a deep state and that as once the alcohol starts to wear off, your body can move from deep sleep to REM, it is often the reason why you wake up just a few hours after falling asleep.

Whilst the odd drink before bed is probably not going to cause many issues, regular use of alcohol most likely will.

Remember how easily habits can be formed?  If you regularly use alcohol and then subsequently wake during the night, your subconscious will quickly get you into the habit of waking at the same time every night, even if you haven’t used alcohol.  Unfortunately, as many people don’t really link alcohol and disturbed sleep, they will complain of not sleeping well, and then use alcohol to help them sleep, perpetuating the pattern and cementing the habit.

Your sleep can be disturbed in other ways too, if you have been drinking alcohol before bed.  The extra fluid needs to leave your body, so you will often find that you need to go to the toilet, perhaps more than once, even if you don’t normally need to.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning not only do you loose the extra fluid, but your body is encouraged to lose extra fluid through sweat, leading to dehydration.

Snoring is also more common in those people who drink on a regular basis, so not only will your sleep be disturbed, but most likely your partners sleep too.

Alcohol is a choice, your choice and if you want to use it, then it is of course your right to do so and certainly no one is telling you that the odd drink is problematic, but do look to your sleep pattern and if it is disturbed, then perhaps a reduction in alcohol consumption may be the answer.