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A glass of wine before bed may make you feel sleepy, but there is evidence to show that drinking even a small amount of alcohol before bedtime can have a detrimental effect on your sleep. This includes disrupting the key stages of your sleep cycle and exacerbating disorders such as sleep apnea. In this article we’ll take a closer look at the different stages of sleep and how alcohol can significantly impact your sleep quality.
To recognise how alcohol can affect your sleep, it’s important to understand the different stages of a typical eight hours’ natural sleep.
There are four stages of sleep which occur in cycles - these are known as REM and NREM. During the night, we experience periods of NREM sleep (light sleep, deep sleep), and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each stage plays an essential role, but stages three and four are considered the most important for your physical and mental health.
Stage 1: You begin the transition from wakefulness to sleep.
Stage 2: You are in light sleep. Your heart rate and your body prepares itself for deep sleep.
Stage 3: This is where you are now in a state of deep sleep and your body enters a restorative period, strengthening the immune system, building bone and muscle and ensuring we feel refreshed and re-energised in the morning.
Stage 4: REM sleep usually happens 90 minutes after falling asleep. This is the stage where your brain becomes active and you’ll experience your most intense dreams. REM stimulates the areas of the brain that help with learning and aids the increased production of vital proteins.
There’s no doubt that drinking alcohol can induce feelings of sleepiness, enabling you to fall asleep quickly, but the impact alcohol has in the later stages of sleep is significant. It’s at these stages when your sleep becomes fitful and fragmented as a result of alcohol and affects your body’s ability to produce key hormones and chemicals, resulting in low quality sleep.
The extent of the effects depends on factors such as age, overall health, how much you drink and at what stage of the evening. Generally, drinking alcohol can affect your sleep in the following ways:
Here are some tips that may help if you have trouble sleeping:
For more tips on how to get a great night’s sleep, take a look at our article Catch some zzzzs.
The team at LiveWell Dorset is passionate about helping you sleep better and lead a healthy, happy life. Our website features lots of resources and information on how to reduce alcohol consumption and different ways to get active, which can aid a good night’s sleep. We’ve helped thousands of people across Dorset and we’d love to help you too! By registering with us, we can help break bad habits and provide you with tips, tricks and tools tailored to you. Drop us a line today!
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