Alcohol and Insomnia

Alcohol and Insomnia

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It’s late, you have to get up early tomorrow morning and you’re still wound up from the day, so you reach for your usual nightcap (or two) to take the edge off and help you get to sleep quicker tonight.

Why not? It wasn’t very long ago that doctors even recommended having an alcoholic drink to those having a hard time getting to sleep.

But that was before researchers found that drinking alcohol to bring about sleep can in fact cause insomnia.

As a matter of fact, studies have shown that alcohol may actually degrade the quality of your sleep more than caffeine!

So, if you’re going to drink, make sure your do it early in the evening to give it a chance to leave your system by the time you go to bed.

Avoid drinking alcohol within 2 hours of bedtime and don’t turn it into a routine.

I know, you say an alcoholic drink before bedtime helps you to doze off easier, but going to sleep is not the only component of sleep. There are two phases of sleep:

  1. Slow wave sleep (SWS) generates the least amount of brain waves, and this stage produces the deepest and most tranquil sleep.
  2.  Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is associated with increasing brain wave activity, dreaming, light sleep, and awakening in the night.

Individuals who consume alcohol within sixty minutes or so of bedtime spend more time in the REM phase of sleep than they actually do in the SWS phase. So while you might go to sleep quicker, you most likely will wake up more frequently throughout the night, and your sleep won’t be as peaceful or as recuperative.

Frequent movement between stages of sleep causes awakenings from headaches, the need to go to the bathroom, dehydration, and profuse sweating.

Alcohol and Insomnia
Glutamine rebound is also an issue involved in alcohol consumption; alcohol impedes glutamine, a stimulant that is naturally created by your body. When you quit drinking, your body works overtime to compensate by delivering more glutamine than is required.

The increased levels of glutamine amps up your brain while you’re trying to sleep, keeping you from reaching the stages of deep sleep.

Discontinuing the chronic use of alcohol can cause severe insomnia with intense dreams. Some people who only have one drink a day, could possibly experience sleeping disturbances when they quit. During withdrawal, the amount of REM sleep is often abnormally increased due to a rebound effect.

Insomnia as a result of alcohol withdrawal is short-term but it still can last for more than a few weeks.

It is commonly known that quality sleep becomes more difficult to achieve as we age. This is because as we get older, we spend less time in SWS sleep and more time in REM sleep. When people reach the age of 65 and older, they may wake up during the night 20 times or more.

Older people think that perhaps some wine before bedtime can give them some sound sleep, when to the contrary it is disturbing their sleep patterns.

So, in summary, the lesson here is, lose the booze if you want to snooze!

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Other insomnia related articles:
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Top Causes of Insomnia
How to go to Sleep – 48 Tips to Help Cure your Insomnia
Diet and Insomnia – Foods That Cause Insomnia
Diet and Insomnia – Foods to Help You Sleep
Allergies and Insomnia
Meditation to Help Cure Insomnia
Should you use Antihistamines for Insomnia?
Aromatherapy for Insomnia – It makes Scents
Acupressure for Insomnia – Getting to the point
The Benefits of Using Acupuncture for Insomnia
Hypnosis for Insomnia
Menopause and Insomnia
Pregnancy Insomnia
Children and Insomnia
Twelve Tips to Prevent the Effects of Jet Lag
Altitude Insomnia


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