One drink, two drinks, three drinks and I’m ready for bed. Within moments of hitting the sheets, I’m out like a light. Something most of us can relate to if you’ve ever had a late-night drink or two. Alcohol the feel-good depressant can make you drowsy and while it makes falling asleep come easy, staying asleep and getting restorative sleep is a whole other story. Here’s what happens.
Did you say REM or RUM?
During sleep, we experience different stages of sleep, both Non-REM and REM. REM sleep is found to be the most restorative stage of sleep. If you’re getting optimal REM sleep, great – However, if your REM sleep gets disrupted, it can wreak havoc on your memory and health. And you’ve guessed it alcohol disrupts REM sleep. No wonder, the morning is confusing, painful and downright exhausting.
While having a drink or two, maybe even a shot, alcohol can have you feeling as free as a bird- It has a sedative effect on the body. It slows down the brain and relaxes your muscles more than normal. While this seems to be a good thing, if you snore it’s not.
The sedative effect causes your throat muscles to fold faster than normal – resulting in snoring (even if you’re not a regular offender). For those with sleep apnea, this can make the condition even worse – and for those of us who don’t have sleep apnea, we can still suffer similar risks as those with sleep apnea. By having a disrupted airflow, you can kiss quality sleep goodbye.
Ah, the joys of waking up in the middle of the night after drinking to the glorious feeling of cotton mouth. My favorite. Why does this happen you ask? Our good friend (wink, nudge) alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to expel more fluids and increases your chances of becoming dehydrated. Once again, disrupting your sleep pattern.
Is it hot in here or is it me?
Ever wonder why you randomly wake up sweating after a night of drinking? Alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning it causes your blood vessels to relax and widen – In other words, this will make you hot. As your body temperature rises, your sweat glands kick in and attempt to cool you down (good old fashioned night sweats) – which increases the chances of disrupting your sleep.
Ever wake up super early after a night of drinking? Your body’s crying out its not ready and your mind is like GOOD MORNING. This is known as the rebound affect. Alcohol makes you sleepy, however, the body quickly metabolizes alcohol and that sleepy effect wears off. Thus aiding in disrupted sleep patterns, leaving you bright eyed and not so bushy tailed.
Ladies and Gents, we were not created equal
As if being a woman isn’t hard enough, alcohol disrupts our sleep more than it disrupts a man. Women’s bodies metabolize alcohol faster than men, therefore as the sedative effect wears off women experience sleep disruptions much sooner. Sigh.
While the occasional drink may not affect your sleep, hitting the bottle hard can ruin a good nights sleep. If you find yourself stumbling around singing Beyoncé (I’ve been drinking), try drinking some water, it will help to flush the toxins from your system – and while it may not save you from all alcohol induced sleep disruptions it can help.