How Does Alcohol Affect Your Sleep?

Posted by Erika Lang on

New Year's Eve is here again with merriment planned across the country. It’s the holiday where Americans spend the most amount of money on alcohol. On average, Americans spend 159% more on alcohol than any average dayThis begs the question, how exactly does alcohol affect your sleep? Let’s dive a little deeper.

Alcohol is a depressant. Which at its core means that it slows everything down in your brain. And while everyone is affected differently by alcohol, there are some common trends associated with sleep and how much you have to drink.

One of the big contributing factors to how well you sleep is how much you drink. The more alcohol a person consumes, the more disruptions are reported. Those who drink alcohol alcohol before bed do not achieve REM sleep at the same rate as those who went to bed without any alcohol. “Alcohol may seem to be helping you to sleep, as it helps induce sleep, but overall it is more disruptive to sleep, particularly in the second half of the night,” says researcher Irshaad Ebrahim, the medical director at The London Sleep Centre in the U.K.

In a 2018 study that looked into how sleep and alcohol affected each other, they found that the more alcohol someone consumed, the worse they slept. In fact, those who reported consuming large amounts of alcohol (more than two servings a day for men and one for women) said their sleep quality decreased by 39.2%.

One condition that can appear due to how much you drink is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when someone experiences abnormal breathing and temporary loss of breath during sleep. Multiple studies have shown that consuming alcohol before bed can increase your chances of sleep apnea by 25% (x). The reason they suspect the increase in cases is because alcohol causes the throat muscles to relax, which in turn creates more resistance during breathing. 

So when it comes to the relationship between alcohol and sleep, it’s a complicated one with many different factors affecting people differently, but ultimately studies have shown that the more alcohol you consume, the worse your sleep will be. Drinking moderately (between 1-2 drinks) will likely not result in minimal consequences, if any, but anything beyond that can affect anything from your breathing to REM sleep. 

Drink responsibly and check back to the Bear Blog when you are seeking that hangover cure.  

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