Can alcohol help you to sleep better?

Can alcohol help you to sleep better

You may often find peoples telling you that they need some alcohol to sleep better. They need some when they feel tired or stressed. And you actually might see some who drank a lot and fall asleep. You also might hear people telling you that they are feeling a hangover due to last night’s drinks. Now the question is Can alcohol help you to sleep better? We will explore.

Why do you need a good sleep?

Sleep plays a vital role in cardiovascular, metabolic health as well as cognitive functions. A night of good sleep is restorative. A night of uninterrupted sleep to leave your body and mind rejuvenated for the next day. According to the American Physiological Association, Insufficient sleep increases the risk of disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and depression. It’s also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. (1) Sleep research scientist Teresa Arora, Ph.D. said, “Sleep doesn’t waste time, it’s good for the waistline”. That was found in well-designed studies. (2)

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Sleep stages and Quality

Apart from the time you need to fall asleep after bed, sleep itself has different stages. After you fall asleep the amount of two stages as slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that you get at night determines your sleep quality. These 2 stages of sleep occur with greater duration as the night progresses. SWS is deep sleep and has a restorative function, whereas both REM and SWS function toward memory consolidation. (3)

Can alcohol help you to sleep better?

Alcohol and Dopamine release

Alcohol interferes with brain signals and inhibits the release of the signaling molecule (i.e., neurotransmitter). Researchers also reported acute alcohol consumption activates brain reward by the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine. (4) Probably due to that reason, some people feel less stressed when they consume alcohol. However, if dopamine is continuously stimulated by a factor, it becomes less responsive to that factor. (5) That means you will need more alcohol intake to have the same pleasing effect if you consume day by day. Moreover, damage to brain cells is associated with alcohol use disorder. (6)

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Alcohol and sleep disruption

Alcohol may help induce sleep and sleep deeply for a while but overall it can cause disruptive sleep. It reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep happens about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. In this stage of sleep, people dream and it’s also thought to be restorative. Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration. (7) Moreover, alcohol had shown to suppress sleep hormone melatonin production. (8)

Moreover excessive alcohol consumption promotes inflammation that further leads to tissue damage, chronic diseases and premature aging.

To sum up, we found although alcohol may induce sleep in the initial stage, it causes a disruptive sleep in the later stage. (8) Probably due to such disruption in sleep you feel hangover the next day. Drinking more closure to bedtime more negatively affects sleep.

Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for  
informational and entertainment purpose only,  not intended to provide one  
to one health consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner.  
Different people may have different health condition and may have different  
reaction to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health  
care provider before application of any of above information 
Source and references: 
2. Arora T. Sleep Doesn't Waste Time, It's Good for the Waist Line. Sleep. 
2015;38(8):1159–1160. Published 2015 Aug 1. doi:10.5665/sleep.4884 
3.St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. 
Adv Nutr. 2016;7(5):938–949. Published 2016 Sep 15. 
4. Sullivan EV, Harris RA, Pfefferbaum A. Alcohol's effects on brain and 
behavior. Alcohol Res Health. 2010;33(1-2):127–143. 
5. Blum K, Thanos PK, Gold MS. Dopamine and glucose, obesity, and reward 
deficiency syndrome. Front Psychol. 2014;5:919. Published 2014 Sep 17. 
6. Zahr NM, Pfefferbaum A. Alcohol's Effects on the Brain: Neuroimaging 
Results in Humans and Animal Models. Alcohol Res. 2017;38(2):183–206. 
8. Rupp TL, Acebo C, Carskadon MA. Evening alcohol suppresses salivary 
melatonin in young adults. Chronobiol Int. 2007;24(3):463–470. 
Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


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