Alcohol might help you fall asleep, but even just a couple of drinks can affect the quality of your sleep and if you’re regularly drinking more than 14 units a week you may find you wake up the next day feeling like you haven’t had any rest at all.
How alcohol affects your sleep patterns
Regular drinking can affect the quality of your sleep making you feel tired and sluggish. This is because drinking disrupts your sleep cycle.
Several sleepless nights have an impact on our day-to-day mental health, including our mood, concentration, and decision-making.
Regularly drinking alcohol can disrupt sleep. For example, a heavy drinking session of more than six units in an evening, can make us spend more time in deep sleep and less time than usual in the important Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, which is an important restorative stage of sleep our bodies need. This can leave us feeling tired the next day – no matter how long we stay in bed.
But having alcohol-free days can help. You should be sleeping better and find it easier to wake up in the morning.
Drinking can equal a disturbed night’s sleep
When you drink more than usual, you may have to get up in the night to go to the toilet, and it’s not just the liquid you’ve drunk that you’ll be getting rid of. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages the body to lose extra fluid through sweat too, making you dehydrated.
Drinking can also make you snore. It relaxes the muscles in your body, which means the tissue in your throat, mouth and nose can stop air flowing smoothly, and is more likely to vibrate.
Why you should avoid alcohol just before bedtime
If you are drinking alcohol, try to avoid it too close to bedtime. Give your body time to process the alcohol you’ve drunk before you try to sleep – on average it takes an hour to process one unit, but this can vary widely from person to person.
Alcohol is not a sleep aid
The immediate and short-term impact of alcohol is to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, and this effect on the first half of sleep may be partly the reason some people with insomnia use alcohol as a sleep aid. However, this is offset by having more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night.
Alcohol should not be used as a sleep aid, and regular use of alcohol as a sleep aid may result in alcohol dependence.
At Pall Mall we offer next day appointments with GP’s who can help you plan a healthy approach to withdrawing from alcohol. Find out more here or call us on 03300 58 44 55.