Drinking & How It Affects Your Sleep

Drinking & How It Affects Your Sleep

Do alcohol and sleep mix?

A drink before bed and a good night’s sleep is guaranteed, which is always our goal at night, right? To fall asleep quickly – and stay asleep all night long. You think alcohol – the great stress reliever, a celebratory friend and sleep buddy. But while alcohol can reduce the time it takes for us to doze off, it does anything but guarantee a healthy night’s sleep. And just like that alcohol becomes a frenemy.

When we look at the long term impact throughout the evening, this quick journey into slumber can disrupt sleep later in the night. Giving yourself a cocktail coma wakes you from slumber in the middle of the night or too early in the morning, long before your body has had time to go through the restorative sleep process.

We’ve all experienced how alcohol can be a trickster, making you believe you have the greatest moves on the dance floor. The same can happen with sleep. Passing out after a night of drinking tricks you into believing you’re getting a better, deeper sleep, but you can often find yourself feeling as if you hardly slept at all. Going to sleep after a night of drinking disrupts the normal sleep process and can cause other side effects too.

  • Disrupts restorative REM sleep
  • Causes daytime drowsiness
  • Suppresses breathing
  • Increases sleep apnea symptoms
  • Increases chances of snoring
  • Can induce sleep walking and talking
  • Hinders concentration and memory the next day
  • Causes dehydration
  • The worst outcome of all, can lead to a nasty hangover

Improve sleep quality

Need to improve sleep quality without reaching for that night cap? There are ways to help yourself get to sleep faster without the use of alcohol and other sleep aids. Keeping some of these in mind can help you avoid the late night or early morning residue alcohol can leave behind.

  • Get regular daily exercise.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and/or nicotine in the evening.
  • Reach for warm milk or an herbal drink instead.
  • Make sure you only use your bed for sleep (and the other “S” word you do in bed).
  • Keep your room at a cool, comfortable temperature (best sleep temps are between 65-68⁰F/18-20⁰C).
  • Keep a regular and consistent sleep schedule as much as possible.
  • Create a list of things you want to get done the next day so your brain is not overwhelmed by those thoughts before bed.

Alternative nightcaps

One or two standard drinks have minimal effects on sleep, so if you can enjoy a few sips before bed and still wake up refreshed, cheers to you! For those of us that don’t have that luxury, here are a few alternative beverages that can help promote a good night’s sleep. So enjoy a drink on us tonight.

  • Tart cherry juice – Cherries contain melatonin, a hormone known to help regulate your sleep cycle. That is a cherry on top of your sleep if I ever heard one.
  • Pure coconut water – Usually known mainly for its hydrating qualities, coconut water also contains high yields of potassium and magnesium which help to relax your muscles. You could relax even more by pretending you’re on a beach vacation while having a glass before bed. I can already hear the waves lulling you to sleep.
  • Banana smoothie – Sounds like you’re giving yourself dessert before bed. Who can say no to that? Take one banana, a tablespoon of almond butter and a half cup of unsweetened soy milk, blend it all together and voila! A treat with the hidden qualities of muscle relaxation. The potassium and magnesium are what give this drink the calming effects.
  • Warm milk – A classic that’s been around since mothers were invented. Got milk? Then you may just have a solid night’s sleep too.