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The effect of alcohol on sleep

Alcohol is usually seen as a great addition to a party but what does a night out do to your sleep?

It generally takes about 20 minutes 90 minutes  for alcohol to fully enter your blood stream after consumption, and it’s effect can be detrimental to your sleep. Falling asleep after getting absolutely blind at a night out isn’t hard, but there is a big difference in the quality of your sleep vs the amount of sleep you get. Just because you’re out for the count after a night of drinking doesn’t mean your sleep is giving you the rest your body needs.

A night cap puts you to sleep but doesn’t help you rest

Alcohol is a depressant at certain doses, which means it slows down your central nervous system which physically means a slowing of your breathing, heart rate, and even how alert you are. As alcohol has a sedative effect, alcohol has the ability to induce into sleep, and this greatly increases with the amount consumed.

While the belief that alcohol can create better sleep, due to how quickly you pass out, is a myth debunked! In fact, alcohol is a major preventer of a good night sleep due to it’s disruptive effects.

Alcohol changes your sleep cycle for the worst

“Alcohol messes with your sleep cycles, resulting in more arousals, and causing you to spend less time in the important deep sleep stages” says Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta, Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine,

Instead of providing a smooth night of sleep, alcohol actually increases wake periods during sleep with high doses increasing the amount of stage 1/light sleep. Another study has found that high consumption of alcohol has significant affects on your Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, with clear results that alcohol delays, and reduces the amount of REM sleep. In fact, alcohol rushes you through the first round of REM sleep which is where a lot of the restoration is done, and quickly into the second stage of REM sleep which has far less restorative effects.

If you dream you’re peeing, you’re peeing in real life

Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes you pee, and also suppresses the vasopressin hormone which is an anti-diuretic. The whole “breaking the seal” idea is a myth because if you’ve been drinking, and especially if you’re still drinking, you’re going to need to pee no matter how long you try hold it.

So if you’ve had a night of a couple of drinks, it best to go to the toilet before bed. Because if you pee in your dreams, you’re peeing in your bed too.

Even a glass changes your sleep

But it’s not just a night of smashing down drinks that can affect your sleep. Even moderate alcohol consumption was proven to lower restorative sleep quality by 24%, and high alcohol consumption lowered it by as much as 39.2 percent.

If you’ve had a few drinks, or are a bit of a drinker, it’s important to wait at least 2- 3 hours after drinking before going to bed to maximise the benefits of sleep.

Wait… how long does alcohol stay in your system?

After consumption of alcohol, about 20% will go into your blood vessels until it goes to your brain, and 80% percent seeps into your small intestine to go directly to your bloodstream. Your liver then processes this alcohol at a speed of 10ml or 8gm of pure alcohol per hour which is dependant on multiple factors such as your age, body composition, gender, metabolism, whether you’re on medicine etc.

If you’re having trouble going to sleep without alcohol, why not try Wallabies Sport Scientist and Nutritionist’s ‘Top 5 Tips To Getting A Great Night Sleep’ here!

About the writer

Bernice is the Growth Marketer for the Australian Bedroom category at Koala. Here for over 1.5 years at Koala, she manages the affiliate program, referral program, influencer campaigns, content strategy, and bedroom growth initiatives.

Email: b.abuan@koala.com

W: bunnybernice.com

IG: @bunnybernice

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