Having a nightcap before bed can help you sleep quicker and deeply but it disrupts rapid eye movement sleep, also referred to as REM. REM sleep is the stage where someone is dreaming, usually 90 minutes after falling asleep. Moreover, REM sleep is thought to be restorative and interruptions at this stage from a drink before going to bed can cause drowsiness during the day and poor concentration.
Alcohol might induce sleep but in the end, it is disruptive to your sleep. Below are the main ways alcohol affects your sleep.
1. Altering your sleeping pattern
REM sleep is an important stage in your sleep cycle. Its benefits will consist of daytime alertness, an improvement on your learning capabilities, better memory and better emotion processing.
When you drink alcohol before going to bed, it will help you go into the deep sleep stage faster than usual. The deep sleep stage is where the body heals itself. However, you will skip the REM stage, which is important for memory and concentration. As the alcohol wears off during the second stage, your sleep is disrupted and in most cases, you wake up only to start falling asleep all over again.
2. Affects a good night sleep
Getting into deep sleep sooner than expected does not spell out good news for you, because this is the dreamless stage. Although you are not dreaming, you are not stirring as supposed to in the REM sleep. Your heart rate is still elevated meaning that some parts of your brain are still active. Consequently, your body remains active, instead of resting you wake up feeling tired and drained.
3. Increased trips to the bathroom
Our bodies produce less urine at night than during the day, which allows us to sleep six to eight hours. Drinking alcohol will disrupt your sleep cycle when you wake up during the evening to go to the toilet, furthermore you will not be losing just the fluid you had drunk alone. Your body will lose extra fluid through sweat, thus this leaves you dehydrated, as alcohol is a diuretic.
4. It affects women more
Women tend to toss and turn more than men after an evening of drinking. Main reason is women metabolize alcohol much faster than their counterparts. Consequently, it means that they get past the alcohol sedative effects quicker and reach the second stage of sleep much sooner.
5. It worsens your sleep problems
Alcohol relaxes the muscles in your body; your upper airway will decrease in muscle tone exacerbating your breathing related sleep issues. People suffering from sleep apnea will stop breathing for short periods as their airway is blocked while sleeping. Moreover, alcohol makes individuals who have obstructive sleep apnea to stop breathing for longer periods and frequently during the night.
The relaxed muscles in your body caused by a couple of drinks aggravate less, but more familiar problems like snoring loudly will take place.
6. It reacts badly with sleep aids
Medication should never be mixed with alcohol, especially sleep prescribed medicine like Ambien, Lunesta, and other drugs. Most sleeping aids target the neurotransmitter GABA, alcohol and sleep aids target the same neural system. The combination can cause someone to stop breathing by inhibiting the parts of the brain essential for survival and eventually leading to their death.
7. Trigger acid reflux
Too many drinks can cause that uncomfortable burning sensation known as heartburn. The acid reflux will keep you from going to sleep. Alcohol will relax the lower oesophageal sphincter muscle, which is between the stomach and oesophagus. This muscle is meant to be closed and only opens when swallowing food. However, too many drinks will relax the muscle leaving it open for stomach acid to come back up.
8. Overtime, your body creates a dependency on alcohol to get some sleep
Reliance on alcohol as a sleep aid, due to chronic conditions like insomnia, might lead to dependence on alcohol. Regular drinking makes your body to build a tolerance to alcohol; thereby this leads to more drinking in order for your body to feel the effects.
If you were to drink alcohol, it would be wise to avoid it close to your bedtime. Depending on how much you have drunk and your metabolic rate it is important to give yourself some time so that your body can process the alcohol. Better sleeping habits like sticking to a bedtime schedule and paying close attention to what you eat or drink before bed will go a long way. Another thing that will definitely help with your sleep is a comfortable mattress. Read mattress reviews and guides to find out what type of mattress would best fit your needs and go ahead and invest in one. Remember, the money you will be spending on a new mattress will not only be an investment for your home but more importantly, it will be for your overall health.
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