How Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Sleep
While alcohol does make sleep easier for healthy people, it is known to disturb rapid eye movement sleep, also known as REM. Essentially, alcohol worsens your sleep quality over time. After about 90 minutes of sleeping, your REM cycle starts and in this stage of unconsciousness, you dream and your body enters a state of restoration.
When your REM cycle gets disturbed, because of alcohol, it causes your body to escape its restorative state and during the daytime it can make you drowsy, reduce concentration and even cause mild insomnia. Thus, consuming alcohol right now may help you ease into a comfortable sleep, but in the long run it’s quite destructive, especially in the later hours of the night.
Apart from disturbing your REM cycle, alcohol also suppresses your breathing which can lead to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder, which has recently become common. It causes the person to take shallow breaths or take one to two pauses in breathing. In an hour, a person with sleep apnea can experience 30 or more breathing pauses. Sleep apnea can make sleeping extremely uncomfortable.
The amount of alcohol a person consumes is directly related to the quality of sleep. The more you drink, the more strongly disturbed your sleep will be. More than two drinks can have a significant effect on your sleep.
Using Alcohol as a Sleeping Aid
People who suffer from mild insomnia find that drinking alcohol helps them fall asleep, which is quite effective during the first half of the night. However, as the effects of alcohol wear off, the second half of the night becomes quite disruptive. For this reason, alcohol should not be used as a sleeping aid because the person develops dependence and in the long run, it causes sleep disorders.
People who are dependent on alcohol for a good night’s sleep are more prone to sleepwalking, sleep talking and have trouble remembering or recalling memories. This is because during the REM cycle your body is restoring mentally, but when it gets disturbed you will obviously have troubles concentrating and remembering.
How to Improve Your Sleep Quality
If you have a severe case of insomnia or experience highly disturbed sleep, it’s best to consult your healthcare professional or visit a sleep clinic. A doctor can effectively help you improve your sleep quality by treating your sleep disorders. Sleeping problems, such as sleep apnea, can only be recognized by a healthcare professional and they can guide you with the appropriate sleeping aids.
If you have mild insomnia or your sleep is somewhat disturbed, there are a few things you can implement to improve the quality of your sleep. First of all, you should get some exercise during the day. When you are tired, you will fall asleep much faster because your body is eager to enter its restorative state.
Secondly, avoid consuming caffeine or nicotine because they suppress melatonin in your body, which is your sleep inducing hormone. Lastly, create a proper sleep schedule, instead of waking up and sleeping randomly.