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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Alcohol and Sleep: Tips for St.Patrick's Day

Posted by Jennifer Hines

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on Mar 16, 2018 7:23:00 AM

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St. Patrick's Day is this weekend and 125 million Americans will celebrate the Irish holiday.  Outside of the color green, drinking alcohol is linked to almost all of these celebrations.  BUT REMEMBER, throwing back a few too many and sleep apnea can be a bad combination.

Alcohol may initially help you nod off, but even a small amount can affect your quality of sleep. Once alcohol starts to metabolize(usually within 2 hours) it actually increases the number of times you awaken during the night.

More Disruptive to Women

Women who hit the sheets tipsy sleep much less soundly than men who have the same blood-alcohol content because women metabolize alcohol more quickly than their male counterparts.

They Don’t Mix

Sleep medications should never be taken after a night of drinking. Lunesta, Ambien, and other drugs that are often prescribed to people suffering from insomnia, if combined with alcohol, could potentially stop breathing during sleep.

Too Many Bathroom Trips

Alcohol is a diuretic, so making that late night pit stop to Taco Bell might sound like a good idea but you’ll be regretting it in a few hours. The alcohol that is in your system can trigger acid reflux when you lie down keeping you from falling asleep and causing discomfort.

If you do decide to explore the Anchorage night life, try and avoid alcohol too close to bed time. This will give your body the time it needs to process what you’ve consumed before you try to.

Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol (BAC) concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above.  For men this typically occurs after five or more drinks in about two hours; whereas for women it is about four drinks in two hours. While the report points out that most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent, here are some sobering facts:

  • One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
  • While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says that more than 1,800 college student deaths a year, mostly from drunken driving can be attributed to binge drinking.

Some common sense tips can help keep you safe include:

  • Be aware of the danger on the road: Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.  Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes says the CDC binge drinking fact sheet.
  • Know your limits and pal-up with a non-drinking friend. 
  • Make a plan:  “Be certain that there is always a designed driver in your party and try to have fun and conversations with non-drinkers,” says Diana Limoncelli, project coordinator in alcohol research at Yale.
  • Be wary of too-good-to-be true suggestions such as taking yeast and drinking all night.

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