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how does alcohol affect sleep

how alcohol affects your sleep

Most people have had experience of finding it hard to fall asleep. You toss and you turn, but you just cannot sleep. In these situations, maybe you have resorted to that ancient household remedy: get up and have an alcoholic drink. The myth claims that a single drink can make it easier to fall asleep. This old trick certainly works for some people, but the effect is often temporary, and overall the alcohol won't do your sleep quality any favours.

Is alcohol a good sleep remedy?

The good effect of alcohol is only short lived. Yes, alcohol might help you fall asleep but, once you have dozed off, the effects can worsen. Alcohol can easily cause sleep disorders and can create a negative impact on your sleep. Maybe you have experienced how after an evening of lots of beer, wine or colourful drinks, it's very likely that when you wake up the following day you will be extremely tired.

This fatigue results from the fact that alcohol deprives you of a large portion of the deep sleep that takes place in the important Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage. Without this part of your sleep, you will not feel re-energised. Not getting our deep REM sleep can also affect our memory and our capacity to learn new things and process feelings. Being frequently drunk while sleeping can also have a very negative effect in the course of time. The more you drink, the less REM sleep and dream time you get.

Poor sleep and sore muscles

When you sleep with alcohol in your blood, you can actually wake up with a crick in your neck or other muscular pain. The explanation is that the alcohol has dulled your brain and stunned the body’s muscles to such a degree that your body “forgets” to move during the night. Normally, we turn several times during sleep but this isn't usually the case after a few drinks. 

The solution is good sleeping habits

If you often have difficulty falling asleep, the best cure is to incorporate some good habits into your lifestyle before bedtime. Good sleep habits do not involve alcohol, but rather the likes of calm activities and dimmed light before bedtime. If you must have a drink, remember moderation. Find more inspiration for good sleep habits in this blog.


- "Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use”, By Timothy Roehrs, Ph.D., and Thomas Roth, Ph.D.
- “Alcohol disrupts body's sleep regulator” published in Medical News Today

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