Can alcohol help you sleep?


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Matress and Wine.jpgCan alcohol help you sleep?

Previously I did a blog post on why caffeine and sleep are not a good mix. You can see it here . I discussed how a stimulant, such as caffeine, can disrupt your sleep patterns. The caffeine can additionally create anxiety and jitteriness that lasts long after you've finished your venti mocha coffee with a shot of espresso. It seems as though you need a coffee before you can have the energy to order it! I've again decided to research the effects of drugs on sleep. I figured if stimulants don't work, how about depressants?

Depressants are drugs that act by slowing cognitive and physical functions. They are typically prescribed for treating insomnia, anxiety and other types of overstimulation. Maybe it's because I'm on a college campus, but the most common depressant I can think of is alcohol. Alcohol will initially have a sedating effect which may appear to cause you to fall asleep sooner. Maybe you know this from experience...maybe not. But when measuring sleep we often have to measure quality compared to quantity.

WebMD recaps a study that was done to test the effects on alcohol on sleep patterns and behaviors. The study found that alcohol decreased sleep duration and efficiency (ratio of time sleeping in bed to total time spent in bed). Additionally it increased how often the test subject woke up during the night. Alcohol deepened sleep during the first half of the night but then disrupted sleep during the second half of the night. This finding has similarly been reported by other studies. Shortened sleep dormancy, increased slow-wave sleep, and suppressed rapid eye movement (REM) all occurred during the first half of sleep. None of that helps you get the blissful sleep you so rightly deserve. During the second half of sleep, REM increases and sleep becomes shallower. At this point you should be in a deep sleep and the alcohol is preventing you from doing so. This essentially messes with the restorative properties of sleep. Yes, sleep can heal! Certain chemicals within your brain such a melatonin help drift you off to sleep. Alcohol consumption was found to affect these chemical messengers that influence sleep.

In a prior post I had talked about why stimulants (caffeine) are not good for sleep. Now it appears that depressants, such as alcohol, are not good sleep aids either. Not to mention that it can probably lead to alcoholism. No surprise here. In my last blog I had recommended tea as compromise.  Perhaps herbal remedies would be a better sleep aid than depressants and stimulants. In an ideal world, of course, we wouldn't need any aid. We could count our sheep blissfully. Until then: Any other ideas about sleep aids for me to explore?

2 Comments

this is very interesting and insightful, I wonder why is that when many people when they are drunk want to go to sleep if there body wont allow them to do so.

You should research nightquil and sleeping pills or just irregular sleeping patterns in general. I find that when I drink alcohol I fall asleep a lot faster than if I was just really tired and I usually sleep all through the night, which i barely do. Everybody is different and has different sleeping patterns. For example, I must sleep with the fan on whether its zero degrees outside or not. Its more of just a soothing thing for me and if I sleep over someones house and they don't have a fan I have a to play my fan sound from an app that I downloaded. Yes its that serious lol. Whether or not I hear a fan blowing really determines how good I sleep.

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