What is the effect of alcohol in sleep?
Although there have been many studies about the relationship between alcohol and sleep since the 1930s, many aspects remain unexplained. Those who drink a high amount of alcohol before heading to bed are more likely to experience delayed sleep onset, which means it takes longer to fall asleep.
As their liver enzymes break down the alcohol during the night and their blood alcohol level drops, they are also more likely to have sleep problems and less-quality sleep. Because of its sedative effects, alcohol can help with sleep onset, helping you to fall asleep faster.
People who drink before bed, on the other hand, frequently have interruptions later in their sleep cycle when liver enzymes digest alcohol. It can result in excessive daytime drowsiness and other problems the next day. Moreover, drinking to fall asleep can lead to tolerance, causing you to consume more alcohol each night to feel the sedative effects.
Alcohol delays and shortens REM sleep’s onset, which is the most relaxing stage of sleep and where one dreams as their muscles relax completely. Shortening REM sleep can hurt body tissue regeneration, which can have adverse side effects.
You may fall asleep faster, but the quality of your sleep, in terms of depth and rest, isn’t as good because of it. It also delays and shortens the beginning of REM sleep (the phase of sleep in which you dream and relax your muscles). It can also wake you up when the sedative effect is gone. It will affect rest and regeneration. As a result, having a nightcap before going to bed is not good.
Sleep contributes to the recovery of the body, brain, and mental functions. If you think about the correlation between alcohol and rest, you might argue that you fall asleep when you drink. However, falling asleep is not the same as sleeping. Alcohol sedates you, so it doesn’t improve your sleep. A sedative is a drug that works like medicine.
The same happens when you take such medication. Even though you are sleeping, this is not the quality of sleep you need and should have every night.
Furthermore, one tends to wake up more when passing out after consuming alcohol. You are not getting deep sleep; you remain in a REM state. When you drink alcohol and pass out, you always wake up early the next day.
This is harmful to your brain waves. Patients with alcohol addiction often complain of insomnia when consuming excessive alcohol. Numerous studies have shown that even minimal alcohol consumption negatively affects sleep quality. The review of ‘the effects of alcohol on sleep quality’ conducted in 2015 found that participants who consumed more alcohol frequently suffered from inadequate quality sleep and more sleep disturbances.