If you are like the millions of Americans who drink alcohol, you may be aware of the way alcohol can make you very drowsy. This might make you think that a beer or a glass of wine before bed will help you get to sleep, but this is far from the truth. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows down brain activity, that is why before you go to bed, is linked to poor quality of sleep.
The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body
Alcohol has a significant effect on your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is set by your internal clock and is responsible for energy during the day and preparing you for a night of sleep. When you drink before bed, you are more likely to fall asleep quicker but you are also much more likely to wake up one or more times in the middle of the night. This is because alcohol affects the body’s normal production of chemicals in the body that are necessary to make you sleepy all night.
More About Alcohol and Insomnia
The chemical called adenosine is the sleep-inducing chemical responsible for a quality night of sleep. When you have been drinking, this chemical production increases so you do fall asleep quicker, but this quickly goes away and makes it much more likely you will wake up. Drinking beer, wine, or liquor before bed gives you poor quality of sleep because it blocks your REM cycle from happening. This cycle is responsible for restorative sleep. When this doesn’t happen, you wake up feeling hungover and groggy. Alcohol is also linked to insomnia. Many may believe that drinking before bed can cure insomnia when it is exacerbating it. Alcohol also acts as a diuretic. This means you will need to urinate a lot. When you sleep and haven’t been drinking, your body normally puts your bladder into hibernation. But because alcohol makes bathroom breaks more frequent, you will likely have to get up multiple times throughout the night to empty your bladder and interrupting your normal sleep patterns. This happens because alcohol suppressed the hormone responsible for how much water is absorbed by your kidneys. When you don’t have the right level of this hormone, your kidneys will store less water and more will accumulate in your bladder. It has also been said that alcohol before bed makes it much more likely that you will have bad dreams and even night terrors. This can cause frequent wake-ups in the middle of the night or make it more difficult to experience a quality night of sleep.
Can Alcohol Decrease Your Sleeping Quality?
The bottom line is that alcohol will decrease the quality of sleep that you get. It is recommended to steer clear of alcoholic drinks before bed and not use them as a way to help you fall asleep. Other drinks can work much better to inhibit a good night’s sleep. You can try chamomile tea, which promotes sleepiness without all of the side effects of alcohol. If you are constantly having trouble getting a restful night of sleep or staying asleep, it may be best to talk with a doctor to identify the causes of your bad sleep. Using alcohol as a way to sleep better can also lead to dependency and will cause many other risky problems than just poor sleep. If you have already developed a dependency on alcohol as a way to sleep, it is best to consult with medical professionals to find the best way to kick the habit. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much better your quality of sleep will be when you stop relying on alcohol to do it for you. If you or a loved one need help with alcohol addiction, Evoke Wellness at Miramar and help on the path to sobriety.