Alaska Sleep Education Center

7 Ways Alcohol And Drugs May Affect Your Sleep

Posted by Dani Martin on Aug 15, 2022 7:24:35 PM

7 Ways Alcohol and Rugs Affect Your Sleep

A good night's sleep is necessary for your soundness and well-being. But consumption of alcohol and drugs can greatly impact your sleep in negative ways. 

There are different ways in which substances can influence your sleep patterns. For instance, caffeine deprives you of sleep and keeps you awake. Others, like alcohol, make you fall asleep quickly but can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.

Some people find that using drugs or alcohol makes them snore or causes nightmares. Additionally, drugs or alcohol can disrupt your circadian rhythm and lead to insomnia.

Today, we'll discuss the seven ways in which alcohol and drugs could affect your sleep.


What Is a Good Night's Sleep?

Getting a good night's sleep is critical for health and well-being. It has been scientifically proven to improve mood, cognitive function, energy levels, and immunity.

A good night's sleep can be achieved through various methods:

  • Complete darkness (activates the pineal gland),
  • Cool surroundings
  • Soft sheets and pillow
  • Moderate noise level in the room
  • No stimulants before bedtime (like caffeine or alcohol)
  • Avoidance of heavy activity right before sleep

There are many different recommendations on how much sleep people need per day. Typically, most people should aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Make sure to keep track of how you're sleeping so that you can make the necessary adjustments if needed!


Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Sleep?

It is widely accepted that alcohol can affect sleep. It has been shown to worsen insomnia in some people and even induce REM Behavior Disorder (RBD).

Alcohol consumption before bedtime limits the amount of melatonin produced by the body. It can lead to sleeplessness. Acute exposure to ethanol increases heart rate and blood pressure. Increased levels of blood pressure and heart rate are associated with disturbed sleep patterns.

In short, if you're having trouble sleeping due to a disrupted circadian rhythm, then avoiding alcohol before bed may help improve your sleep quality.

Be sure not to drink too much alcohol as this might also negatively impact other parts of your health. If you feel sick or addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can get help from professional addiction-reducing programs.

Professional assistance from The Heights Treatment take a holistic approach to get you out of alcohol and drug addictions, thus giving you back quality sleep and mindfulness. With a team of experts, you should address the underlying causes of your problems rather than just treating the symptoms. 

This approach is often more effective and faster-acting than traditional therapies, which can take weeks or even months to work.


7 Ways Drugs and Alcohol May Affect Your Sleep

Drugs and alcohol can affect your sleep in several ways, some of which are pretty obvious and others not so clear initially. Read on to learn about seven ways drugs and alcohol can affect your sleep and how to get the most out of your slumber.


  • Alcohol Disrupts REM

Yes, alcohol can disrupt REM sleep, which is something to be aware of if you are trying to improve your mental health or memory. REM sleep is essential for consolidating memories since it helps move new information into long-term storage.

It's also been shown to help emotion regulation, problem-solving, and decision-making. For these reasons, people must get adequate amounts of REM sleep every night to perform mentally and physically at their best.


  • Drugs Make You Anxious

Drugs like marijuana or cocaine often leave people depressed or anxious in the hours leading to bedtime, making it difficult to get restful slumber.

One way to avoid this is to avoid drugs like marijuana and cocaine at least several hours before bedtime. When these substances are consumed close to bedtime, they can interfere with the body's natural sleep-wake cycle and cause feelings of anxiety or depression. This makes it difficult for people to achieve deep sleep.


  • Alcohol Causes Irregular Sleep Patterns

When it comes to alcohol and sleep, the effects are pretty clear-cut. Not only can drinking alcoholic drinks make it hard to fall asleep later in the evening, but they also contain stimulants that make it harder to get quality sleep. Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with our circadian rhythm or internal body clock, thus causing us fatigue during the day.


  • Certain Drugs Disturb Your Circadian Rhythm

Taking drugs before bed can disturb your circadian rhythm, making it harder for you to fall asleep later. When you have a regular sleep schedule, your body naturally enters a vital state in the late evening and early morning hours. It is when melatonin levels are highest, and cortisol levels are lowest. 

Consumption of drugs and alcohol tampers our circadian rhythm. Our body fails to follow the routine and we have trouble being active during the day and resting during the night. 


  • Regular Drinkers Have Headaches

When you drink alcohol, your blood pressure rises due to the release of stress hormones like adrenaline. This increase in blood pressure often increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

In addition, excessive drinking can disrupt your brainwave function by reducing levels of alpha waves and increasing levels of beta waves. This change in electrical activity is associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing headache and migraine symptoms.

Awareness of the changes that can occur when you start drinking alcohol is essential. If you're prone to headaches or migraines, it may be a good idea to abstain from drinking altogether.


  • Tobacco Smoke Weakens Deep Sleep Stage 2

Tobacco smoke impairs deep sleep stage 1 (theta waves), associated with restful sleep and rapid eye movement [REM] dreams. It's a sign that your mind is occupied in dreamland rather than awake during the slumber stages of the bedtime cycle. Nicotine increases cortisol levels, a stress hormone linked to disrupted REM cycles, among other adverse outcomes.


  • Alcohol and Drugs Can Reinforce Anxiety

Alcohol and drugs can reinforce anxiety in people who already have them. It is because alcohol and drugs act as stimulants, which can increase the level of stress.

Additionally, they can also increase impulsiveness and interfere with cognitive function. People struggling with anxiety may find it harder to reason when they're under alcohol or drugs.

Overall, drinking alcohol or consuming recreational drugs should be used in moderation to avoid adding to your anxiety symptoms.


Do Sleep Issues Influence Drug Use?

Alcohol and the other drugs mentioned affecting sleep quality. Yet, it appears that lack of sleep also impacts substance usage. It is because some utilize medicines to induce and sustain sleep. 

Lack of sleep and sleep disorders provide several risk factors. These risk factors raise the likelihood of substance dependence. 

Lack of sleep may cause you to: 

  • Use sedatives to self-medicate and aid in getting to sleep or staying asleep.
  • Use stimulant medications to help you stay awake, energetic, and focused during the day, after a stormy night’s sleep. 
  • Use any medicine since being extremely fatigued causes impulsivity and poor decision-making skills. 


How Do Teenagers' Sleep Habits Affect Substance Use?

One of the significant challenges that parents face when raising teenagers is getting them to bed on time and sleeping through the night. Teenagers are active during the day, significantly interfering with their nighttime sleep cycles.

Teenagers go through a rapid period of physical and emotional growth. That can make it problematic for them to fall asleep. They also tend to be more irritable in the evenings due to hormonal changes. This increases alertness after waking up from a good night's sleep. Also, it can cause boredom in early morning classes or homework assignments.

Besides, teens are constantly seeking social interaction. They may find it challenging to get enough shut-eye relying on screens as their primary form of communication with others at night.

One way to help your teenager get better sleep is by setting strict bedtime habits as early as possible. This will help them regulate their body clock and teach them how quality rest is vital for health and well-being.

As teenage sleep habits become increasingly regulated by parents and schools, understanding the link between good sleep patterns and reduced substance abuse is essential. Teenagers who get enough quality sleep are less likely to use drugs or alcohol. Because they have better:

  • Cognitive function,
  • Improved moods,
  • Fewer cravings, and
  • Greater self-control.

Teenagers need around eight hours of sleep per night to feel alert during the day. For those who struggle to get a good night's rest due to nighttime noise or light exposure from electronic devices, supplementing their sleep with white noise can be helpful.

Additionally, avoiding screens before bedtime can reduce anxiety levels in teenagers. This may lead them to healthier sleeping habits.


Final Thoughts

Alcohol and drugs can have significant short- and long-term impacts on your sleep. To make informed decisions about managing your sleep, it is essential to be aware of how these substances affect your sleep and health. If you are having difficulty sleeping, do not refrain from seeking advice from a healthcare professional to discuss your options. Quality sleep is crucial to the effective functioning of your body and mind.

If you believe that you have obstructive sleep apnea, it’s vital that you see a doctor immediately who can diagnose you. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition which can be fatal, so knowing what to do and what to avoid can help with your symptoms and ease any fatigue and exhaustion commonly linked with the condition.

For more information on diagnosing, treating, and the possible consequences of untreated obstructive sleep apnea click here.

Chronic Drowsiness

Topics: alaska sleep clinic, trouble sleeping, sleep hygiene, alcohol, addiction, sleepless nights, drugs, alaska, alaska sleep, alaska sleep center

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