Do you sometimes use alcohol as a sleep aid? If so, you’re not alone. Almost 30% of those with sleep issues have been down this dark road. While alcohol makes most of us sleepy at the outset, it is important to be informed about what happens to our bodies the rest of the night. In this article, we’ll explore why these choices are unhealthy and seek to better understand their impact.
Off the top, we’re not saying you have to avoid alcohol entirely. In fact, research suggests that sticking to just one drink and having it early is fine. Many moderate drinkers can continue to imbibe but it helps to understand and be fully aware of the impact. From sleep issues to breathing problems, science clearly demonstrates that alcohol use can interfere with achieving quality sleep.
It’s common knowledge that alcohol’s effects can induce feelings of relaxation, but did you know that those effects extend to the whole body? Throat muscles, in particular, are sensitive to the substance, as breathing becomes disrupted and the airway becomes blocked. Sleep disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea can become aggravated. This is important to consider since, ideally, we don’t want any barriers to our brains receiving the oxygen they need during the night.
Alcohol and REM Sleep
REM sleep is a crucial part of the sleep cycle. This rapid eye movement sleep stage is when brain activity increases and dreaming takes place. But REM sleep is more than just being in la-la land. It’s also associated with learning, memory and mood.
Such an essential, mentally restorative sleep stage is not to be neglected, but unfortunately, can be affected as a result of poor sleep habits. One habit, in particular, that is often disruptive to quality REM sleep is alcohol consumption.
While alcohol has been found to reduce sleep onset latency (the amount of time required to fall asleep), it is also believed to suppress REM sleep in the first two cycles. Because REM sleep is often the stage where dreams take place, any disturbance caused can actually lead to highly vivid dreams or nightmares.
Alcohol is a depressant with sedative effects. Due to the sleep disruptions that are caused by reduced REM sleep, people who drink before bed have a tendency to experience insomnia symptoms that can result in sleepiness the following day. This can lead to a pattern of continuing to consume alcohol before bed to try to get to sleep, only to wake up feeling groggy and at times, disoriented. This can easily become a habit that is hard to break.
Developing Better Sleep Habits
If you’re a heavy drinker, cutting back on your alcohol intake may be easier said than done but very important to consider. Although difficult to do, giving up on the extra few glasses before bed can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your sleep. If the drinking is controlling you, perhaps it is time to seek assistance for your physical and mental health.
More than ever, people are searching for a reliable sleep aid that will consistently help them enjoy peaceful sleep. Take control of your sleep health today, and learn more about how Zenbev can help you get the healthy rest you need.