Many people hold the notion that alcohol can act as a sedative. Therefore, leading them to the belief that drinking before bed will lead to a better night’s sleep. However, modern science has proven for this to be anything but true.
For one, alcohol is actually a stimulant – to some regards – even though it’s classified as a depressant. If it didn’t wake us up and feel good, millions wouldn’t be going out every Friday night and having their drinks as a means of socializing. Alcohol makes us feel good and it does so in the essence of filling the brain with endorphins. These are the chemicals responsible for us becoming talkative, confident, and less socially ashamed.
These chemicals do eventually wear off and leave us feeling rather sluggish. Ending our drunkenness with a drowsiness. Sometimes, instances appear where an individual has drunk too much to the point of sending themselves into a loss of consciousness. But it should be noted that this is simply the body’s reaction the lack of consumption in terms of blood alcohol levels.
Interestingly, scientific research has led to the conclusion that alcohol, in fact, reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Yet, it increases the amount of time the brain spends within deep sleep.
To top this off, the second half of the sleep cycle is very much disturbed. Causing abusers to not get as good of a night’s sleep and more susceptible to waking up from minor annoyances. With this data, it’s highly suggested that people with insomnia do not use alcohol as a sedative. Though it may help an insomniac fall asleep quicker, there is a very likely chance one will be awakened before they’ve received a full night’s rest.
Some may be asking the question as to whether alcohol is always bad for sleep. There are instances where – in an example – a glass of wine has sedative qualities that will help an individual fall asleep and stay in sleep for a longer period of time. However, it’s highly noted that the body builds a tolerance to alcohol very quickly. And soon enough, the individual would have to increase the amount of alcohol consumption in order to recreate the same effects. With this, they will not only be doing harm to their body but also great damage to their sleep schedule.
Understanding the Sleep Structure with Alcohol
There’s usually a time in everyone’s school career where they learn about the sleep cycle. To those unaware, the average adult begins their night in a stage called NREM (defined non-rapid eye movement). To put it simply, this is when the brain slowly goes from consciousness to unconsciousness.
Following NREM is REM (defined rapid eye movement). During this period is when a sleeper will experience dreams as they are very deep into unconsciousness. Throughout the night, we experience the sleep cycle around four to five times.
When an individual brings the toxification of alcohol into this they are disturbing much of what the brain is used to. In essence, throwing it off the steady course of the cycle and almost creating an entirely new one.
As mentioned, alcohol will make you fall asleep faster as well as cause you to stay within deeper sleep for a longer period of time. With this knowledge, we can understand that the third and fourth stages of the sleep cycle are heightened to some degree. This also causes the SWS (defined slow wave sleep) to increase during the first half of a night’s sleep. For those unaware, SWS is responsible for refurbishing the body and immune system for the following day.
At this point, it does seem as though alcohol may help an individual find sleep. However, it’s during the second half of one’s sleep cycle that a person will experience the disturbance caused by inebriation. REM is greatly reduced during this time, therefore, leaving the user in a very fragile state of mind before a full refreshment of the body is complete.
How Alcohol Affects Everyone’s Sleep Differently
People are likely to have a versatile amount of experiences while attempting to sleep with alcohol in their system. For alcoholics, these experiences may happen more frequently than to that of a non-alcoholic having their fun with a night of drinking. And vice versa.
Being that alcohol also affects us all differently, the number of possibilities in which an individual sleeps – or wakes up – to remain inconsistent.
- Waking Up Too EarlyAs mentioned, the second half of the sleep cycle is very much disturbed by alcohol flowing through the blood. Being this, people will often find themselves waking up in the early morning – before their intended wake up time – and unable to fall back asleep. This is commonly known as the rebound effect.
- Combining Pills with AlcoholPreferably, we’re going to quickly discuss sleeping pills as many believe it’s a way to counteract any disturbance brought on by alcohol. Though some may find themselves getting full night’s rest – or even more – there is much danger in sleeping pills combined with alcohol. For one, the body is not receiving proper refurbishing as it would in a healthy body. But also, there are chances of accidents that could lead to fatal situations.
- Night SweatsAlcohol has the ability to open up blood vessels which, in essence, heat up the body to temperatures all too warm. With this, individuals will have the tendency to sweat throughout the night.
- Increased SnoringPeople who are affected by snoring are likely to worsen their symptoms. Being that alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat and airway. If you’re not affected by snoring, there’s still the chance of gaining these symptoms through alcohol.
- Increased UrinationThis one may be obvious, but the more alcohol an individual is going to consume, the more they’re going have to use the bathroom. With this, it can be assumed that a night’s sleep will often be disturbed by the constant necessity of urination.
- Increased Chance of SleepwalkingBeing that alcohol increases our SWS, there are likely chances of people suffering from somnambulism increasing their suffering through drinking. The occurrence of sleepwalking happens more frequently in the SWS. Therefore, with alcohol only heightening the condition, people may find themselves in the position of sleepwalking more frequently.
If you or anyone you love is looking for alcohol abuse treatment or desire more information on how alcohol affects a person’s sleep patterns, please, give us a call at 602-535-6468 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.