Alaska Sleep Education Center

How Alcohol Can Impact Your Sleep Quality

Posted by Lewis Robinson on Feb 11, 2022 3:07:00 AM

Friends having dinner and toasting at a restaurant

While most adults are aware that good sleep is important for their health and their ability to function properly, they still may not get the amount or quality of rest that they need each night. For some, a hectic lifestyle may be preventing them from getting the sleep they need, while others may struggle with habits, like alcohol consumption, that hurt their sleep quality. Whatever the case, it may not always be easy to get enough sleep. The good news is, though, that there are things that you can do to help ensure that you are getting the rest that you and your body need during the night. 


The Importance of Good Sleep

Although many are aware that sleep is important and they feel better when they do get the rest that they need, the reality is that many adults are suffering from differing amounts of sleep deprivation. Sleep is necessary for many reasons, other than just feeling more alert and energized. When you sleep, your body undergoes many healing and reparative processes. If you aren't able to sleep long enough or aren't able to drift into a deep enough sleep, your body may not be able to repair itself like it needs to. 

While a couple of nights of poor sleep may just mean that you feel groggy or cranky in the short term, long-term sleep issues can lead to a wide variety of health issues. From mental health issues like depression and anxiety to physical concerns like heart disease, weight gain, and stroke, there can be many issues that can crop up if you aren't getting enough sleep. Because there can be so many issues that occur as a result of poor sleep, it can be a good idea to consider your lifestyle and habits and find out if there are things that you are doing that could be negatively impacting your sleep quality. 

One habit that can be harmful to sleep is alcohol consumption, especially in large amounts and close to bedtime. While many may not realize that there is a connection between alcohol and sleep, the truth is that the amount of alcohol you consume can have a lot to do with how well you sleep, and how rested you will feel when you wake up. 


How Alcohol Impacts Sleep

Drinking alcohol in the evenings can feel like an easy and pleasant way to unwind after a long or difficult day. However, while alcohol can be relaxing, and may even help some to fall asleep, the reality is that it can disrupt your sleep cycles and hurt your sleep quality in a big way. When you fall asleep, there are different cycles that you go through, and some are deeper than others. Alcohol consumption can lead to lighter sleep, which means that you may not be able to drift into deeper sleep cycles for very long, or at all. Light and easily disrupted sleep can mean that your body doesn't get the opportunity to heal itself or repair as it should during the night. 

Not only can alcohol lead to poorer sleep quality, but it can even lead to insomnia in some cases. Insomnia can be the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep, and regular alcohol can worsen this condition. Beyond that, alcohol can also contribute to or cause sleep apnea, which affects how you breathe during sleep. The primary symptom of sleep apnea is obstructed breathing or a lack of breathing during sleep. Additionally, those with sleep apnea may find themselves feeling exhausted during the day. Even though many may enjoy drinking in the evenings, if you struggle with sleep issues then it may be a good idea to consider whether or not it could be interfering with your rest. Even though it may not feel like an easy habit to give up, it can be beneficial to consider it, or to at least try limiting your drinks to two or three during the evening. 


Other Factors That Can Impact Sleep

In addition to alcohol, there are other lifestyle factors that can have a significant impact on your ability to sleep well. Caffeine can also be a big sleep disruptor, especially if it is consumed in large quantities in the evening. This is due to the fact that caffeine is a nervous system stimulant. This means that it can be great for getting you up and going in the mornings, but it will also keep you going later on when you would like to rest, too. To help ensure that caffeine isn't holding you back from getting good sleep it can be a good idea to limit your intake to one caffeinated drink early on in the day.

Along with the beverages that you drink, your diet can also prevent you from getting the sleep that you need. A poor diet filled with sugars and carbs can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash. This means that your energy levels will also be spiking and crashing, too. Eventually, this can cause you to be tired when you need to be alert, and wide awake when you want to sleep. By taking some time to assess what you eat throughout the day and especially the last few hours before bed, you can help ensure that your diet isn't preventing you from getting the kind of sleep that you need.


Tips for Better Sleep

If you want to get quality sleep, then it can be beneficial to watch what you are eating and drinking, and it can also be a good idea to consider a nighttime routine that improves sleep quality. If you like to do creative things, then doing something like writing in a journal or drawing before bed can be a creative way to unwind and relax.

If you have physical stress that you need to expel before you can rest deeply, then doing gentle stretches or practicing yoga before bed can be a good way to do so, as can taking a hot bath. On the other hand, if you experience a lot of mental stress then trying out something like mindfulness, also known as meditation, can be a great way to clear your mind and get yourself in the right headspace for sleep. 


Some Final Words

Most adults are aware that good sleep is essential if they want to have good health. The reality is, though, that it may not always be easy to get quality sleep on a regular basis. This can be even more true if you have certain habits, like regular drinking. The good news is, though, that by understanding what alcohol can do to your sleep patterns and making simple lifestyle changes, you can start getting better sleep.

Improve your sleep and your life by calling the Alaska Sleep Clinic today for a free asleep assessment or click the link below to take our sleep apnea quiz.


Topics: sleep hygiene, alcohol

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