There’s a common belief that alcohol makes you sleepy. Sadly, for those in the habit of having a cheeky late night tipple, it’s a myth. Alcohol is actually a sleep disrupter
Studies have shown that while having alcohol in your blood stream can help you drop off, it actually gets in the way of the restorative REM sleep that is the most valuable. We’re not saying don’t have a drink (we wouldn’t be that mean) but it’s worth bearing in mind that if you have a big day ahead and want to wake up feel and looking your best, you’d be best to hold off on the wine for a night or two beforehand. Here’s why...
- Alcohol is a sedative. Have enough of it in your bloodstream and it will make you sleepy. However, being sedated isn’t the same as being in a restorative sleep. Alcohol messes with our usual sleep patterns and reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – that’s the bit when lots of the important repair work goes on and that helps us wake up feeling re-energised. Lose out on this type of sleep and we tend to wake up feeling tired and irritable.
- As the levels of alcohol in our blood reduce the sedative effects wear off and as a result many people wake up midway through the night. Alcohol is also a diuretic which means it makes you want to go to the loo more often. If you are one of the many who struggle to drop back off then that means more disruption to the 7-8hrs that our body needs.
- The more you drink before bed, the more pronounced these effects. REM sleep happens about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. It's the stage of sleep when people dream, and it's thought to be restorative. Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and rob you of needed ZZZs.
- Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director at The London Sleep Centre in the UK points out another issue: “Alcohol also suppresses breathing and can precipitate sleep apnea,” or pauses in breathing that happen throughout the night. The same effect is the reason why Drinking can also make you snore loudly. It relaxes the muscles in your body, which means the tissue in your throat, mouth and nose can stop air flowing smoothly, and is more likely to vibrate. That means that as well as messing with your own sleep it can also disturb your partner
All in all, a pretty sure fire way to wake up feeling grumpy.