Alcohol might seem to help you nod
off but even having just a couple of drinks can affect the quality
of your sleep. If you're regularly drinking more than the
government's lower risk guidelines, 2-3 units a day for women and
3-4 units a day, for men and you are likely to wake up the next day
feeling like you haven't had any rest at all.
Dr Nerina, our resident sleep
expert, says "For centuries, humans have relied on alcohol as a
relaxant to ease our passage into sleep. I enjoy a glass of wine as
much the next person but from a psychological perspective any
alcohol will effect your sleep."
Drinking close to bedtime interferes
a number of normal sleep processes. The Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
sleep stage is missed as you go straight into a deep sleep. As the
alcohol wears off you will return to REM sleep making it much
easier to wake up, meaning you often rouse after only a few hours
sleep feeling exhausted.
Apart from low quality of sleep
there are other issues. Alcohol makes you more likely to snore
loudly as it relaxes the muscles in the body including the tissue
in your throat, mouth and nose, stopping the air flowing smoothly;
making it more likely to vibrate and therefore snore. Also if you
drink a lot, you may have to get up in the night to go to the
toilet. And it's not just the liquid you've drunk that you'll be
getting rid of. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages
the body to lose extra fluid though sweat too, making you
For anyone with ongoing issues
sleeping, such as insomnia, alcohol is best to be completely
avoided before bed advises Dr Nerina, "If your insomnia has become
severe and you are trying to rebuild your connection with sleep, it
would be advisable to steer clear of alcohol until the improvements
to your sleep have become well established."
The advice from drinkaware.co.uk is
- if you are drinking, try and avoid it too close to bedtime, give
your body time to process the alcohol before sleep; on average it
takes an hour per unit.
- 'Tired But Wired' By Dr