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Alcohol and Its Effects on the Quality and Quantity of Sleep

Most of us are familiar with people who enjoy a drink or two before they head off to bed. The drowsiness that accompanies drinking any spirit, be it beer, wine, or any of the harder stuff, is commonly known. Research, and this is not just a one-off paper, numerous studies have demonstrated the harmful effects of drinking before bed.

While it may be good for healthy people to have a drink or two before bed, and it might even get them to sleep sounder, it affects REM sleep. Rapid eye movement is the ideal state of sleep, which provides the body the best kind of rest it needs to recuperate for the next day. REM sleep is considered to be the period almost 90 minutes after falling asleep when dreams begin. Disturbed REM sleep can cause you to be drowsy the next day, lazy or even affect your productivity.

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Here is how alcohol can affect your sleep:

Shakes up Your Circadian Rhythm

While one may fall asleep quickly after drinking, it also induces you to wake up earlier than usual. Explanations range from alcohol messing with the chemical balance of your body to dehydration. Drinking induces the production of adenosine, a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain. This makes your body sleep faster, but it subsides once the alcohol wears off. This would not only wake you up, if you persist in drinking your sleeping patterns may just become alcohol dependent.

Aggravates Breathing Issues

Research shows that alcohol increases the inspiratory resistance by up to 4 times, making one more likely to snore after having a few drinks. There are also allergic reactions to a substance found in alcohol, namely tyrosine, which can have an inflammatory reaction causing one to snore even more. Regular drinkers can have pronounced snores and they may also increase their chance of contracting sleep apnea. Having enough food with your drink can help fill you up and curb binge drinking. The best case scenario would be to cut down drinking to a minimum before bed.

Diuretic Properties

One of the biggest problems of alcohol is its diuretic properties. Alcohol makes your body create more urine than usual. This leads to more bathroom trips. Anyone who drinks regularly knows the pain of waking up mid-slumber with a full bladder. Waking up in the middle of REM sleep can be extremely fatigue inducing and cause you to feel sleepy the next morning. Hydrating yourself regularly while drinking is necessary to avoid late night bathroom trips.

It Becomes a Dependency

Drinking before bed can turn into a habit before you know it and can morph into a dependency just as quickly. It is important to halt this rot before it goes any further. Cut down the number of days that you choose to drink at night. When you do, make sure that you have something healthy to supplement your drinking. If drinking before bed becomes a dependency it can have serious long term repercussions on the body.

Overactive Brain

Drinking allows your brain to work overtime. The alpha activity happening in the brain, that usually happens when the brain is not sleeping but resting, coincides with its delta activity, or the slow wave pattern of deep, restorative sleep. This keeps the brain in a state of higher activity than it is used to when sleeping. Because of which the body cannot get the rest that it deserves. This disrupted sleep can cause you to be irritable, low and fatigued the next morning. This will also be a hindrance in helping you get a good day’s work done.

Alcohol, while seemingly a sleep-aid is anything but that. Treating it as one can be extremely unhealthy for your body.

What do you think?

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  1. Thanks for the post!

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