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What does alcohol do to my sleep? (10/11/10)

October 11, 2010

Alcohol and Sleep


America’s favorite knock out drop is not its best.  Did you know:


An ounce of alcohol at bedtime will lead to 15-25 extra arousals during sleep?


Imbibing alcohol at midnight has about 2-3 times the physiologic effect of alcohol at 6 PM?


No one really knows the mechanism by which alcohol leads to intoxication?


Why The Facts Matter


1.   Waking up more frequently means it’s harder to get into deep sleep and REM sleep.  It’s not just how long you sleep, but how continuously that helps create useful, quality sleep.  The frequent waking caused by alcohol interferes with learning, memory, and body rebuilding.

2.   Small amounts of alcohol late in the night can kill you.  A drink at midnight is more like 2-3 drinks – all at once.  This can and does lead to major accidents while driving -though “I only had one drink.”

3.   Alcohol, like benzodiazepines (valium, librium, ativan and others) changes people’s brains in ways they truly don’t recognize.  It’s easy to become overconfident of your abilities well before you’re intoxicated.  Often alcohol makes people think they’re better drivers and thinkers than they really are – setting them up for mistakes, accidents, and potential disaster.

4.    The Up-Down Trap – The American “lie down and die” model of trying to fall asleep immediately and wake up instantaneously, magically refreshed, often leads people to use booze to fall  asleep and stimulants get moving  in the morning. Normally it takes 20 minutes or more for your cold brain to get fully awake.  And people don’t recognize how much stimulants, including remarkable drugs like coffee and tea with their useful anti-oxidants, can interfere with sleep many hours after they were ingested.

5.   Alcohol’s effects on the brain are so widespread and poorly understood that regular night-time alcohol can provoke lifetime insomnia.



Bottom Line


Don’t use alcohol to fall asleep.  As Shakespeare said, “it provokes the desire, but prevents the performance.”

If you want to perform well each day, don’t touch bedtime booze.
Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news


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