This article has been researched and written by Arelang Naturals® in-house writers.
Exploring the Interconnection between Alcohol and Sleep:
If you're someone who enjoys a glass of wine or a beer before bed to help you relax and fall asleep, you're not alone. While alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy and ready for bed, the effects it has on your sleep may be more complicated than you think. Let's explore the interconnection between alcohol and sleep, including the impact of alcohol on sleep quality and quantity, the relationship between alcohol and sleep deprivation, and strategies for improving sleep quality while consuming alcohol.
The Effects of Alcohol on Sleep
Alcohol consumption can have a significant impact on the quality and quantity of sleep. While alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it can disrupt the natural sleep cycle and lead to poor sleep quality. During normal sleep, the body experiences the four stages of sleep at least 6 times through the night, reaching REM sleep every 90 minutes or so. Alcohol consumption interferes with these stages, causing the body to spend more time in REM and less time in deep sleep. The dreams during the lengthened REM cycles are usually very vivid and intense. This pattern of sleep is not healthy and can lead to feelings of fatigue, grogginess, and difficulty concentrating the next day. Being in deep sleep is extremely important as this is when your body goes through the process of the 3 essential R’s - Restore, Replenish and Repair.
Alcohol is also known to heighten sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia. For people with sleep apnea, alcohol consumption can increase the severity of breathing disruptions during sleep, leading to more fragmented and less restful sleep. For people with insomnia, alcohol may initially help them fall asleep, but it can also lead to being in and out of sleep more often and a poorer overall quality of sleep.
Breaking it Down Further
The headaches and hangovers that accompany the morning after a drinking binge, is just the body’s way of rebelling against the contradictions it had to undergo through the night. Here is what happens to your body when you sleep after consuming alcohol:
Accelerated Heart Rate - When alcohol enters the blood stream, it affects the nervous system and the brain cells and causes the brain functions to increase serotonin and dopamine levels. It also causes the heart rate to increase and blood vessels to dilate, leading to an increase in the surface temperature of the body and night sweats that disrupt sleep patterns. During normal sleep, the body is designed to not only lower the heart rate into restfulness but also reduce the body’s temperature.
Increased time in the REM sleep stage - Alcohol shortens the sleep cycles in the early stages of sleep, thereby keeping the body in REM sleep stages longer than usual, causing sleep disruptions, nightmares and vivid, intense dreams. All these result in poor quality sleep, headaches and hangovers the morning after, grogginess through the day.
Suppression of Melatonin Production - Melatonin is the hormone that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm and helps the body determine when to fall asleep. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health, found that a moderate dose of alcohol before bedtime can decrease the body’s melatonin production by nearly 20 percent.
So what is a moderate dose? It would be safe to say that it's best to avoid alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime so as to minimise its negative effects on sleep. First, it's important to drink alcohol in moderation and not rely on it as a sleep aid. For women, moderate drinking means up to one drink per day, while for men, it means up to two drinks per day.
Second, it's important to establish healthy sleep habits that promote better sleep quality. This includes maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing sleep environment, and avoiding caffeine and nicotine before bedtime. It is essential to avoid getting addicted to melatonin supplements that are not made from natural sources. Start supplementing with natural plant-based melatonin supplements like Restore Your Sleep, which help your body kickstart natural melatonin production to give you sound sleep every night.
Third, practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote better sleep. These techniques can also be used as an alternative to alcohol to help you relax before bedtime. Additionally, engaging in regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and reduce the need for alcohol as a sleep aid.
Finally, seeking professional help is crucial if you're struggling with alcohol use disorder or sleep disorders. This may include therapy, medication, or other interventions that can help you improve your sleep quality and overall well-being.
Establishing healthy sleep habits is essential for maintaining good sleep quality and promoting overall well-being. These habits include:
- Consistent Sleep Schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including on weekends, can help regulate your body's internal clock and promote better sleep quality.
- Relaxing Sleep Environment: Creating a sleep-friendly environment can also promote better sleep quality. This can include reducing noise and light pollution in your bedroom, investing in comfortable bedding and pillows, and keeping your bedroom cool and well-ventilated.
- Avoiding Stimulants: Consuming caffeine and nicotine before bedtime can disrupt sleep and reduce sleep quality. It's best to avoid these stimulants at least four hours before bed.
- Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality. It's best to exercise earlier in the day to avoid overstimulation before bedtime.
- Wind-Down Routine: Establishing a wind-down routine can also help prepare your body and mind for sleep. This can include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or practising relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
- Trying Natural Plant-Based Supplements: Candyceuticals like Restore Your Sleep made with walnuts and valerian root help kickstart natural melatonin production in your body and ensure you get a restful night's sleep.
Remember, prioritising good sleep habits, taking the right supplements, and seeking professional help when necessary can have significant positive impacts on your overall health and well-being. So, the next time you're thinking about having a nightcap, remember to prioritise moderation, pick Restore Your Sleep instead, and practice healthy sleep habits. Sweet dreams!