Insomnia and Alcohol

Insomnia and alcohol consumption go to together like insomnia and coffee. Many people have the mistaken idea that drinking a glass of wine or other type of alcohol before bedtime will help them sleep.

insomnia and alcohol

For some people, alcohol acts as a stimulant which will make it even more difficult to fall asleep.

However for many, alcohol does often result in a feeling of drowsiness. What's wrong with that you wonder if it helps you to fall asleep? One is that the affect is temporary and interferes with deep quality sleep. The other concern is that drinking alcohol every night to help you fall asleep may become routine and a regular habit. You may become dependent on it and develop the mind set that you can't fall asleep without a drink or several drinks.

Eventually it may take more alcohol to get the same feeling of drowsiness, and then you are on a slippery slope.

REM Sleep Disrupter

The truth is that not only does alcohol not help you stay asleep, alcohol actually interferes with the quality of one's sleep. According to Dr. Michael Breuse, the WebMD sleep expert, "as the (alcohol) withdrawal hits in the last half of the night, the result is shallow, disrupted sleep, increased REM sleep, increased dream or nightmare recall and sympathetic arousal, including tachycardia and sweating."

what causes insomnia

Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep because of the need to get up and go to the bathroom or of a resulting headache.

Dr. Gregg Jacobs, the author of Say Good Night to Insomnia , concurs and writes, alcohol " can make sleep lighter and more fragmented, for it suppresses deep sleep."

Sleep Experts Agree

Another author (Tired of Not Sleeping ) and doctor, Sandra Cabot, M.D. explains how alcohol and insomnia go together:

"Alcohol reduces the amount of REM sleep in the first half of sleep, and in the later part of sleep it increases REM sleep and increases light sleep.  In other words, it changes the timing of the different types of sleep thereby affecting the way that your brain processes information as well as reducing the level of deep restorative sleep."

insomnia and alcohol

Alcohol can also make snoring or sleep apnea worse because of the affect of alcohol on the muscles in the throat.

One word of caution is to never combine alcohol and sleeping pills.

If you are experiencing insomnia you can find some guidelines in many of the sleep books as to what type of wine to drink, replenishing fluids with water, and other instructions. However, if you want to make a good night's sleep a priority, skip alcoholic drinks until you've re-established good quality sleep. Then try an evening glass of wine at a social or business event and take note of the quality of your sleep that night. Or try enjoying a glass of wine at lunch with friends and skip the evening alcohol and it's subsequent consequences for sleep. 

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