Sleep and Alcohol: What You Need to Know

Sleep and Alcohol: What You Need to Know

We’ve all done it. A glass of wine to relax and help us fall asleep after a long day. Drinking red wine honestly used to be my go to “falling asleep on the airplane” strategy.  The thing is, even though alcohol does help us fall asleep, just one glass in the evening can have a noticeable impact on the quality of our sleep. 

Alcohol is a sedative that can initially make you feel drowsy and relaxed. But sedation isn't sleep. Alcohol does reduce the amount of time it takes you to get into NREM1 which is the first stage of sleep. Once it is metabolized though, it causes disruptions to our sleep cycle that results in lower quality and less restful sleep overall.

One of the main ways that alcohol disrupts sleep is by reducing the amount of time spent in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is a critical stage of the sleep cycle that is associated with:

  • Learning
  • Memory consolidation
  • Emotional regulation

When we reduce the amount of time spent in REM sleep the results include things like:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Mood disturbances 

Drinking before bed also makes us wake up throughout the night. We often dont even remember waking up, but having a fragmented sleep has a considerable impact on our sleep quality. 

While the effects of alcohol on sleep quality may vary from person to person, it is generally recommended to avoid consuming alcohol within a few hours of bedtime. Instead, if you need help getting into that “relaxation zone” to fall asleep try to establish a consistent sleep-wake schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine to help promote better sleep hygiene.

Some tips we love to help us sleep:

  1. Not looking at your phone or any other screens before bed and keeping your phone in another room while you sleep! 
  2. Taking a warm bath before bed 
  3. Relaxing night time stretches and meditation

And of course..

  1. Getting into your cosy RANI pajamas 
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