Does Alcohol Affect Your Sleep?

You’re not imagining it if you who’ve noticed that you are not getting as good quality of sleep when you drink, or you may observe that you feel more tired the next day. Sleep disruption is undeniably one of the negative impacts of the effect of alcohol on the body. 

Alcohol affects several of your body’s sleep systems. Most notably it:

  • Decreases melatonin: Alcohol inhibits the release of melatonin, your body’s primary natural sleep hormone signaling you to sleep.
  • Reduces growth hormone: Alcohol reduces growth hormone release, which is crucial for your body’s nighttime repairs. AKA more wrinkles. Yes, drinking leads to faster aging. Sad but true. 
  • Increases stress hormones: Alcohol increases your body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases your resting heart rate and generally stimulates your body—making it more likely you’ll wake up during the night.
  • Disrupts your circadian rhythm: Alcohol can impact your brain and liver’s internal clocks, causing your body to be misaligned with its natural sleep cycle. It can take up to 3 nights to return to your natural sleep rhythm. 
  • Increases urination: Alcohol is a diuretic. Your body typically halts your bladder function at night; however, alcohol may interrupt your sleep for extra trips to the bathroom.
  • Aggravates breathing problems: Alcohol causes your muscles to relax, including your throat. This relaxation can make you more prone to snoring and can worsen sleep-related breathing problems like sleep apnea. This explains why your partner sounds like a steam train when they have had too much to drink!
  • Aggravates your mood: Alcohol generates heat. To someone who is already angry or frustrated, this additional internal heat will agitate the mind even more. 
  • More night sweats and hot flashes: Because alcohol increases circulation and makes your body generate more heat, it will trigger night sweats and hot flashes in those who are prone to them. 

Wondering How to Confirm Your Disturbed Sleep is Alcohol-Related?

Take notice next time you have a drink with friends or a nightcap on your own.
If you have these symptoms, given that you’re not sleeping as well, you’re likely to suffer the next day with poorer reaction times, decreased concentration, compromised memory, and increased irritability.

This, along with that late-night greasy gluten-free pizza you might have had—which also interferes with sleep—can compound to make your next day tough.

Things to Keep in Mind When Drinking Alcohol

Does this mean you have to give up drinking altogether? Not necessarily.
Some people are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol at night than others, so compare your results to an average night’s sleep without alcohol to see what changes.

Try out these tips to soften alcohol’s impact on your sleep:

  • End early: Allow your body at least 3 hours before bed to metabolize the alcohol from your system. Keep in mind this varies by weight, gender, and consumption. Alcohol before bed can increase vivid dreams,  body temperature, night sweats, nighttime urination, and disruptive snoring resulting in poor sleep quality. 
  • Hydrate often: Alternating alcoholic drinks with water can help you stay hydrated and drink less alcohol throughout the evening. This, in turn, can keep your blood alcohol concentration low, and that will leave you feeling better the next morning.
  • Avoid mixers: Beverages that have sugar or caffeine in the mix are more likely to stimulate your internal clocks when you’re trying to wind down.
  • Drink less: Lower doses may increase total sleep time but decrease sleep quality, whereas higher doses activate the sympathetic nervous system and disrupt sleep. If your body weight is low, you need to drink less, as one drink per day may be equivalent to the effect of two drinks per day for someone of heavier weight. 
  • Drink this: When you do moderate drinking, favor drinking a glass of wine or tequila. These alcoholic drinks are the least inflammatory and less likely to have such a negative effect on sleep disruption. 
  • Take your Herbs: Chat with Dr. Corbin or Dr. Trevisan about which herbs to take to help you metabolize alcohol more efficiently. 

One of the markers of optimal health is to fall asleep easily and stay asleep the entire night. If you are suffering from poor quality sleep, this is one of the areas that Chinese Medicine excels at treating. We would be delighted to help you drink less, sleep better and enjoy life even more. And we look forward to celebrating your good health with a cocktail or cocktail.  ️ 

If you need to do a 21-day alcohol detox, we can help with that too. Contact us to learn more.