Alcohol interrupts your natural sleep cycle, reducing the restorative benefits you get from deep sleep. You wake up more often in the night, you rarely reach deep sleep, and you don’t sleep for as long as you should. Before we look at the effects of alcohol on sleep in detail, here’s the basic bottom line. The more you drink, and the closer your drinking is to bedtime, the more it will negatively impact your sleep. Even moderate amounts of alcohol in your system at bedtime alters sleep architecture—the natural flow of sleep through different stages.
Insomnia is characterized by trouble falling or staying asleep. Alcohol contributes to insomnia by suppressing REM sleep and causing OSA. This makes it difficult to stay asleep, but it may not be directly noticeable. Insomnia due to alcohol can be hidden, creating symptoms of fatigue and sleepiness during the day without an apparent cause. Insomnia and alcohol use can cause a negative feedback loop, as drinking alcohol to get to sleep can cause more of a hidden insomnia.
Types of Alcohol-Related Sleep Problems
If you drink a large glass, substitute it with a small glass. If you drink strong alcohol like spirits, switch to weaker options like beer. Also, remove the temptation to drink by keeping less alcohol at home. Doctors advise that 14 how to fall asleep without alcohol units of alcohol is the maximum you should drink per week. Regularly exceeding this can lead to poor health and risk of serious illness. The science behind why some people have insomnia and other people sleep well is complicated.
However, natural techniques such as avoiding screens before bedtime, reading before bed, doing gentle exercises, or practicing mindfulness may also be able to help. Studies show that people who drink alcohol regularly are more likely to develop long-term insomnia. And the side effects like irritability and tiredness the next day can impact your life and those around you.
This can cause sleepiness and may make you think it’s easier to fall asleep when using alcohol at bedtime. However, alcohol negatively affects the quality and duration of sleep, and using it to sleep can be counterproductive. If you can’t sleep without alcohol, then you should first figure out why. Maybe stress during the day means you need a cocktail to relax. Whatever the reason, identifying the cause will help you put an end the problem.
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- If you are curious about changing your relationship with alcohol, I created this free 30-Day toolkit to help you cut down on drinking.
- Trying the methods above can increase the chance of falling asleep without needing to use any sleep aids.
- Benzodiazepines and sedatives offer a double-edged sword of relief and risk.
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The circadian disruption that can result from alcohol consumption contributes to leaky gut syndrome, according to research. Alcohol is the most common sleep aid—at least 20 percent of American adults rely on it for help falling asleep. But the truth is, drinking regularly—even moderate drinking—is much more likely to interfere with your sleep than to assist it. Consider doing 10 minutes of meditation before bed each night to get you into the right frame of mind.
Stage 4: Alive—“I Can Forget What I Know”
For many of us, a glass of wine or a couple of beers before bed feels like an excellent way to relax before sleep. Continual lack of quality sleep can have dangerous health effects. It can seriously suppress the immune system, impair cognitive and motor function, and increase the risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and more.
- A 2016 study found that participants had significantly worse sleep in a hospital setting than at home.
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- These are changes you can make to your environment and routine to help promote sleep.
- On the one hand, it is a sedative that induces sleepiness, but on the other hand, it can negatively affect the quality of a person’s sleep.
Sleep disorders like insomnia can co-occur with alcohol abuse, and treating insomnia can improve a person’s sleep quality while in recovery. The best way to wake up without an alarm is to adjust the body’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour clock that helps determine when a person feels sleepy or alert. Daily habits, like getting natural light exposure in the morning or keeping a consistent sleep schedule, can enable morning awakenings without a jarring alarm. If alcohol continues to disrupt your overall sleep quality, you may consider cutting it out entirely, or limiting your intake before bedtime. If you’ve stopped drinking alcohol, but are still having sleep issues, be sure to reach out to a sleep specialist.