Why Alcohol Disrupts Your Sleep

When a person has sleep apnea, they have interrupted breathing during the night. The condition is linked to fatigue as well as serious cardiovascular conditions like heart attack and stroke. Sleep apnea can persist for years even after you stop drinking. Drinking to fall asleep can cause or worsen some health issues over time.

20% of adults in the United States will use some form of alcohol to help them fall asleep. Alcohol may help many fall asleep on occasion; however, the use of alcohol, even a single serving, will make it more difficult for someone to reach deep sleep, also known as REM sleep.

What Alcohol Actually Does To Your Sleep Cycles

Alcohol can induce Obstructive Sleep Apnea or make the current condition much worse. Studies showthat moderate or heavy drinking can cause episodes of OSA in those who don’t already have the condition. Unfortunately for those who already have OSA, alcohol can increase the time in between when breathing stops and starts. Alcohol disrupts circadian functioningby interfering with the ability of the biological clock to synchronize itself. Evidence also shows that alcohol elevates adenosine, a chemical that regulates sleep by rising naturally in the body the longer one has been awake while blocking other chemicals that stimulate wakefulness. The circadian rhythmis a 24-hour cycle controlled by the body’s biological clock.

why alcohol disrupts your sleep

Suppressing REM sleep can have detrimental consequences for memory consolidation and other cognitive processes. If you’re sacrificing sleep in order to snag some relaxation time after a long day, you might be revenge sleep procrastinating — and it could be harmful… These are the sleep habits Nicole Draper uses to keep her shut-eye on track. They include lots of exercise and a nightly phone reminder to get ready for… A new study also found evidence that extra sleep on weekends may lessen some effects of sleep deprivation, but more research is needed. You knew the lack of quality sleep was interfering with your productivity.

Hydration And Sleep

While it might seem like a small issue given everything else someone in recovery has faced, persistent lack of sleep can lead to increased chance of relapse. Luckily, insomnia is highly treatable and with the right tools, those suffering will be able to sleep again.

why alcohol disrupts your sleep

In general, the use of alcohol can prevent someone from falling into deep sleep, which is crucial to maintaining normal brain function, physical health, and emotional well-being. The toll this takes could already cause strain to one’s life and relationships. This means that someone self-medicating spirals deeper into their dependency, turning it into a full-blown addiction faster. When people in America notice they’ve developed issues falling asleep, their first reaction is often to have a drink.

Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Fitness Centers Our fitness centers focus on disease prevention, rehabilitation and general health maintenance. Primary Care Our providers are dedicated to providing care that helps you achieve and maintain better health. Maternity Services Compassionate and personalized Maternity care for you and your baby. It is the truly caring staff that makes Cornerstone the best rehab I have been to.

Caffeine And Sleep

Additionally, alcohol inhibits REM sleep, which is often considered the most mentally restorative phase of sleep. Anestimated 10 million people consult health care practitioners for sleep disorders and of these, half receive prescriptions for sleep medications . For those patients with chronic insomnia who have an underlying problem of alcohol abuse, clinicians need to prescribe particularly carefully . The sleep of individuals with depressive and/or anxiety disorders resembles the sleep of persons with alcoholism . Similar REM sleep changes occur during withdrawal in alcoholics with and without secondary depression .

  • However, those suffering from insomnia may need to combine many of these methods in order to achieve the desired amount of sleep.
  • The body will cycle between varying stages of sleep including deep sleep, where the body heals itself, and REM sleep, where the brain consolidates and remembers information from the day before.
  • Having a drink before bed may seem like a way to relax and unwind.
  • Similar trends were observed in adolescents and young adults, as well as middle-aged and older adults.

Besides just waking you up a lot, alcohol candisrupt your normal sleep patternsenough to create some longer-term issues you may need to address. This leads to sleep that is less restful and restorative and can encourage the use of alcohol to try to increase sleep. The results, however, is an increase in alcohol-related sleep disturbances for older adults. Sleep apnea sufferers who drink two or more drinks a day are five times more likely to be involved in a fatigue-related traffic crash than those who do not drink. We also know that excessive daytime sleepiness, resulting from a lack of sleep, is linked to impaired social and occupational function, memory deficits, and risk of having a vehicle crash.

If they aren’t forthcoming about their dependency or possible addiction, then a doctor can’t prescribe proper treatment. This may mean they are given medication that should not be mixed with alcohol or are given poor treatment because they have given insufficient information.

A member of our medical expert team provides a final review of the content and sources cited for every guide, article, and product review concerning medical- and health-related topics. Inaccurate or unverifiable information will be removed prior to publication. Drinking in moderation is generally considered safe but every individual reacts differently to alcohol. As a result, alcohol’s impact on sleep largely depends on the individual.

Your call is confidential, and there’s no pressure to commit to treatment until you’re ready. As a voluntary facility, we’re here to help you heal — on your terms.

NREM sleep consists of four stages, and each stage can last from 5-15 minutes. Psychological withdrawal symptoms often include anxiety, depression, and intense cravings.

why alcohol disrupts your sleep

Scientists have studied alcohol and sleep problems and alcohol’s effect on various sleep stages, in both the first and second half of the night’s rest. Alcohol increases levels of adenosine, a key component of the homeostatic drive.

Relaxation Techniques Can Help You Sleep Better

At present, we can only say that in some patients, alcohol use, psychological and sleep disorders co-exist. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes brain activity to slow down. Alcohol has sedative effects that can induce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, but the consumption of alcohol – especially in excess – has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration.

As they continue to drink, their sleep patterns soon become disrupted again. The idea that alcohol consumption improves sleep is, in reality, only a myth. Mello NK, Mendelson JH. Behavioral studies of sleep patterns in alcoholics during intoxication and withdrawal. Baekeland F, Lundwall L, Shanahan TJ, Kissin B. Clinical correlates of reported sleep disturbance in alcoholics.