How to Sleep Better After Drinking Alcohol
Many people assume enjoying a few alcoholic drinks before bedtime will help them sleep better. However, turning to alcohol as a sleep aid is not a particularly good idea. While it’s true that alcohol can leave you feeling sleepy, drinking sufficient quantities will only help you fall to asleep more quickly, rather than stay sleeping soundly for long periods of time. Drinking a few alcoholic beverages prior to your usual bedtime may help you sleep for a few hours, but once the sedative effect of the alcohol begins to wane, it can actually be detrimental to the later stages of sleep.
How Alcohol Impacts Sleep
Alcohol acts as a sedative on the body, leaving most people who consume it feeling relaxed and drowsy. If you consume alcohol late enough in the day, such as during the evening, this can help you drift off to sleep more easily. However, alcohol should never be looked to as a substitute for a conventional sleeping aid. Regular consumption of alcohol can heavily fragment natural sleep cycles, leading to constant waking during the night. The key reason for this is is that once the relaxing effects of alcohol begin to wear off, your natural circadian rhythm will be impacted.
The rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep is particularly affected by alcohol. Drinking enough alcohol will significantly limit the amount of REM sleep you experience. REM sleep is the deepest and arguably most important sleep stage of all. It is during REM sleep that dreaming occurs, with this deep stage of slumber crucial in restoring the body and mind. Achieving insufficient levels of REM sleep during the night will have a detrimental impact on memory and general concentration. Some studies also suggest insufficient REM sleep may increase the chance of developing certain diseases and shorten life expectancy.
Drinking alcohol before heading to bed can also disrupt your bathroom habits. Alcohol alcohol can in fact dehydrate the body, it also acts as a diuretic. This will inevitably lead to you waking up during the night in order to relieve your bladder. Many people consume large amounts of water after drinking alcohol in the hope it will relieve hangover symptoms the next day. Drinking plenty of water can help flush alcohol out of your system more quickly, but it will also lead to you waking up more frequently during the night in order to visit the bathroom.
Tips for Sleeping Better After Consuming Alcohol
One of the simplest ways to ensure a better night’s sleep after drinking alcohol is to monitor how much you are drinking. Leave sufficient time between drinks and try to avoid alcoholic beverages altogether at least 2-3 hours prior to hitting the hay.
You should also consider the kinds of beverages you are drinking. Avoid drinks with high levels of sugar or caffeine, as these will only stimulate your system and make it difficult to drift off. Any drinks that are paired with carbonated or sugary mixers should be avoided altogether if you are looking to enjoy a restful night.
Finally, make sure you pay a visit to the bathroom before retiring to bed. If you have consumed several drinks during the evening, you will probably still find yourself waking during the night to urinate. However, using the toilet just prior to heading to bed will help minimise the impact on your sleep schedule.