Alcohol and Sleep
Alcohol is the most common sleep aid - at least 20% of American adults rely on it for help falling asleep.
Does it work?
Actually, the use of alcohol close to bed time is more likely to interfere with your sleep than to assist it. Alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but reduces REM rapid eye movement sleep, the most restorative time of sleep.
Basically, the more you drink and the closer your drinking is to bedtime, the more alcohol will impact your sleep negatively. Even moderate amounts of alcohol in your system at bedtime alters the natural flow of sleep through different stages.
- Disrupts circadian functioning
- Less time in REM sleep - the time for mental restoration including memory and emotional processing
- Reduced restorative quality of sleep
- More frequent need to get up and go to the bathroom, especially during the second half of the night
- Increased risk for parasomnias (sleep walking and sleep eating)
- Greater risk for snoring and sleep-disordered breathing
- Contributes to next-day tiredness, fatigue, irritabilitity and difficulty concentrating