Alcohol Doesn’t Help You Sleep

Alcohol may help you get to sleep faster and sleep better at first, but it disrupts your sleep later in the night, according to a few British researchers who reviewed scientific studies on alcohol’s impact on sleep.

They hope their findings will help people understand that drinking alcohol only gives the impression of improving sleep, and that it should not be used as a sleep aid. The study found that alcohol consumption shortens the time it takes to get to sleep and increases initial deep sleep, but reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Lack of REM sleep can harm your concentration, motor skills and memory.

One hypothesis is that alcohol acts like medications that are used for depression and anxiety,” review corresponding author Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director at the London Sleep Centre, said in a journal news release.

Studies on people with depression have identified that untreated patients had excessive REM sleep, mainly early on in the night, and that antidepressant medication suppressed their REM sleep. Alcohol acts like antidepressants, this impact of alcohol on REM sleep may explain the mood elevation and anxiety reduction associated with alcohol use. This review helps clarify the research findings.

To summarize, alcohol on the whole is not useful for improving a whole night’s sleep even if you have a comfy adjustable mattress because you may sleep deeper to start with, but then your sleep becomes disrupted. Additionally, the deeper sleep will probably promote snoring.

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