Why Does Alcohol Make You Sleepy?

Alcohol generally tends to make you feel sleepy almost immediately after you consume it. You can feel this even with mild tipsiness and even more if you drink large amounts of alcohol.

Why does alcohol make you sleepy? There are several reasons behind this feeling that you can find out more about by going through the points mentioned below.

While alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it does not necessarily mean that this will last for a long time or throughout the night. We will elaborate on this as the article proceeds.

Loss of Fluids

Alcohol can lead to a loss of fluids in our bodies. If you drink too much of it at a given time, this can increase the dehydration that our body feels even more.

This is because alcohol can reduce the production of saliva in our bodies that can not only impact digestion but can also make our mouth feel dry.

Along with this, some people might also experience sweating. You will also feel the need to get some of the alcohol out of your system with frequent bouts of peeing through the next few hours.

Overall, this kind of dehydration can end up making you feel tired and drowsy, leading to a sleepy effect.

Sedative Effect

Alcohol has an impact on the central nervous system. It causes it to relax and wind down, creating a sedative effect on our bodies. This can then cause you to feel sleepy as your muscles become more relaxed, your heart rate lowers and you start feeling lethargic.

This can put you to sleep quickly, which can sometimes be helpful for the first few hours of the night.

However, if you drink during the day, then this sedative effect can make you feel sleepy and prevent you or slow you down from carrying out your routine in a normal and effective way.

Thus, this kind of sleepiness can have an impact on productivity as well.


Alcohol, as mentioned, has an impact on our central nervous system. Along with this, this can impair several cognitive functions in our bodies as well.

As a result, it can become difficult for our bodies to stand up straight or move in the way we want to due to muscle relaxation. Our memory also becomes numb and the neurotransmitters may have a hard time relaying important messages.

This can create incoordination, causing us to feel sleepy more than usual. This can cause you to rest for a while or lie down that can then drift you off into sleep.

REM Disruption

Our sleep cycle tends to take place in several stages that include three non-rapid eye movement (REM) stages, followed by a single REM stage. These stages are important to give you a steady sleep throughout the night.

However, alcohol can bring about a disruption to this regular sleep cycle. It can first enhance the initial non-REM stages, which is why you might feel sleepy soon after drinking alcohol.

After some time, however, you might face disturbances due to the fact that all the functions that had slowed down initially will speed up or become active again. This will reduce the REM stage, making you feel drowsy and cause you to sleep much more throughout the next day.

This kind of delayed sleepiness can disturb daily routines even more than the immediate sleepy effect of alcohol.

Absorption in the Bloodstream

Alcohol generally absorbs into the bloodstream in our bodies as it passes through the rest of the body. This means that once it goes through the stomach and the intestines, it can then pass into the blood.

This can then also reach the liver of the body but it has the ability to make use of enzymes to process the alcohol. This takes a while to carry out, which is why the alcohol continues to be a part of the rest of the body.

This kind of absorption can then slow down other bodily functions as well, making you feel sleepy soon after drinking it.

The extent to which this kind of impact occurs depends on several considerations of the person, such as how much alcohol you consume, how old you are, how your metabolism is, other health issues and more.

Alcohol as a Sleep Aid

Several people have a habit of consuming a small amount of alcohol every night to help them fall asleep. This tends to become a nightcap that is believed to improve the quality of sleep throughout the night.

However, this might not actually have the desired impact on your body. While alcohol can make you feel sleepy and drowsy, this effect does not maintain itself throughout the night.

Once the sedative effect reduces, your heart rate may increase again along with the stress level of the body. This can interrupt your body before it enters the final REM stage.

Thus, your body might actually take much longer to fall asleep properly. This can also cause vivid dreams or a disturbing night.

If you or someone you know suffers from alcohol addiction, then alcohol can also lead to insomnia and overall incoordination, leading to chronic problems.

Ultimately, alcohol may not be able to act as a good sleeping aid even if it makes you feel sleepy temporarily.

Final Remarks

You now know all there is to know about why alcohol makes you feel sleepy. Generally, this occurs because alcohol has a tendency to depress the central nervous system, which can then create a drowsy effect that can also make you feel imbalanced and uncoordinated.

While you might feel sleepy immediately after drinking alcohol, this effect can reverse a few hours later since several parts of your body and mind can become active again. You might also feel nauseous and dehydrated, leading to further disturbances.

This can then increase the drowsy and sleepy effect even more after you wake up, leading to grogginess and a lack of productivity throughout the day.

If you only consume a small amount of alcohol, the impact might not be as extreme as compared to larger amounts or frequent consumption.