If you’ve ever thought that a little nightcap will help you sleep better, you’re not alone. However, science says that alcohol affects your sleep more than you may realise.
Why alcohol makes you drowsy
Alcohol produces both sedative and stimulating effects. The sedative effects make you initially drowsy, which can help you fall asleep faster than usual. However, a few hours later, the stimulating effects kick in, causing a poorer night’s sleep over all.
A recent study into sleep and alcohol found that even just one drink could impair sleep quality. Moderate consumption of alcohol lowered restorative sleep quality by 24% and high alcohol levels by over 39%.
How alcohol affects the body
Initially, after you’ve had a drink, you may begin to feel drowsy. This drowsiness helps you to drop off to sleep relatively quickly. This is why many people think that alcohol is a sleep-aid. However, it’s what happens a few hours later that causes sleep problems.
A few hours after your drink, the stimulating effects kick in. Alcohol raises the level of one of your stress hormones, called epinephrine. This hormone increases your heart rate and generally stimulates the body, meaning a disruption to your sleep.
How alcohol affects your sleep
Interrupts your circadian rhythm
Alcohol affects the normal production of chemicals in the body that cause you to feel sleepy after being awake for a long time. After drinking, levels of sleep-inducing hormone increase, causing you to fall asleep faster. However, levels of this hormone subside quickly, which causes you to wake up before you’re truly rested.
Blocks REM sleep
REM sleep — rapid eye movement sleep — is the type of sleep where we are most likely to dream, when our eyes move back and forth beneath our eyelids, and our body doesn’t move much. REM sleep is the most restorative kind of sleep. It also helps with learning, memory and mood. Alcohol blocks this REM sleep, which is why you’re likely to wake up feeling groggy and confused.
Contributes to sleep apnoea
Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, which can make sleep-related breathing problems and sleep apnoea worse.
Increases trips to the bathroom
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it promotes the production of urine. You’ll find you’re more likely to get up for the bathroom after drinking alcohol before bed.
Get to sleep naturally
Instead of relying on alcohol to help you drift off, try some of these methods:
- Drink warm milk, or herbal tea before bed
- Have a relaxing bath
- Listen to relaxing music
- Prepare your bedroom by making it cool, dark and quiet
- Ensure your bed is comfy by sleeping on the right mattress for you.
Why not treat yourself to a brand-new mattress and give yourself the gift of good sleep. We have a wide-range of supportive, waterproof, and bariatric mattresses that will help you sleep well. Come in store, or browse our range online.