Sleep and alcohol are not made for each other. Unfortunately, most of us think that a nightcap is what is required to get sound sleep. With the cold settling in, and the holiday season round the corner, a glass of red wine or sherry, or a glass of glorious scotch aged to perfection could seem like a good way to end the day. But is it?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) claims it certainly is not. This is because alcohol is a depressant and a slow killer. Highly addictive and habit forming, alcohol is one of the most abused substances in America today. Alcohol addiction is a crippling disease, the ill effects of which are mostly observed during the holiday season, when people are more likely to indulge in excesses such as binge drinking. End of Christmas, more people enter rehab or observe a dry month compared to any other time of the year.
How alcohol impacts sleep
Alcohol has a pronounced impact on the quality of sleep.
- It drastically reduces the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and more than one drink could have a profound effect on the sleep pattern of an individual.
- Sleep, as we know, occurs in stages. The most critical stage being the REM stage of sleep which occurs approximately 90 minutes after an individual falls asleep. If an individual has a drink or two just before bedtime, the experience disruptions in REM, leading to drowsiness and poor concentration the next day. They could also feel irritable and exhausted, finding it difficult to accomplish everyday rituals.
- Alcohol also disrupts sleep pattern. Due to the increased wake periods, and a similar increase in the urge to go to the bathroom, the body does not get sufficient rest.
- Those who drink routinely could have problems getting sleep and suffer from insomnia – which is a debilitating condition.
In a recent study conducted by the AASM, it has come to light that 68 percent of Americans are not getting enough sleep because they are drinking when they should ideally be in bed, and this is likely to get worse during the holiday season. The survey results are on predictable lines – 75 percent males do not get enough sleep due to alcohol compared to 60 percent females. Also, during the holiday season, 78 percent adults in the 35-44 age bracket will stay awake past their bedtime nursing a drink. With friends and family joining in there could be more than one reason to yield to temptation.
Drinking guide for late night drinkers
So in the event that one is compelled to have a drink late at night with friends, there are a few rules that one must adhere to:
- It is imperative that one does not make it a habit to drink before going to bed. An occasional drink with friends and family is understandable, but not more.
- Binge drinking is a strictly not acceptable. Not during the holiday; not with family and friends. Binge drinking, as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is when men consume 5 or more drinks and women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.
- Also, if you are underage, pregnant or on medication for anxiety or depression, you should stay away from alcohol.
- One should not go to bed after having a drink. This is bad for sleep. There should be a three to four hour gap between drinks and bedtime.
- Eat healthy and ensure there are plenty of fruits and vegetables and proteins in your diet.
- Water works magic. One should have a drink and a glass of water intermittently and avoid fizzy drinks and colas as these contain caffeine.
Saying no to alcohol abuse and addiction
Alcohol, in any form, can be a potential health hazard. It can lead to physical and mental illness and can create both personal and professional instability. It is important to minimize indulgence in alcohol and refrain from situations, which transform casual drinking into a habit. There is nothing like moderate drinking, therefore, the most preferred way is to not indulge at all.
If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol and is looking for a rehab detox center for alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction, get in touch with the California Detox Helpline. Call our 24/7 helpline 855–780–2495 or chat online with one of our experts to know more about our research-backed, customized alcohol addiction treatment programs. You can also chat online with a representative for further information on alcohol rehab centers in California.