According to a study by the University of Missouri School of Medicine, 20 percent of American adults use alcohol to help them sleep. While you may be no stranger to having a glass of wine before bed to unwind, alcohol has an impact on your sleep quality, duration and cycle.
Research shows that alcohol disrupts the normal sleep-wake cycle that is automated by your circadian rhythm by shortening the time it takes to fall asleep, also known as sleep latency. The problem is, when you fall asleep naturally, you are more likely to stay asleep. While you may fall asleep faster with alcohol use, there is no guarantee that you will stay asleep. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means you will most likely be getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and these frequent trips seriously decrease your quality of sleep. Another study found that high amounts of alcohol make it harder for you to fall back asleep during the night after you’ve woken up once — especially with binge drinkers. If you drink so much that you pass out, then you are not getting the type of sleep that repairs and rejuvenates your body.
Alcohol also robs your body of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is important for performance, memory and mood, because you are likely to wake up before you ever reach this stage. Without adequate REM sleep, you can suffer migraines, sleep deprivation, weight gain and lower performance during your waking hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
The moral of the story is, while alcohol is fun and safe in moderation, it should never be used as a sleep aid. Be sure to get plenty of rest and relaxation so you can enjoy your favorite adult beverages responsibly with your friends and family and still kick butt!