How Does Alcohol Affect Your Sleep?

Here at Sleepy People, we want to help you get the best nights sleep possible, that’s why we like to look at how every part of everyday life can affect how we sleep.

We have previously discussed how jobs influence sleep and which foods help give you a better nights sleep amongst many others.

This post tackles one of the most divisive parts of life, alcohol. Booze is one of th4e very few things which has a number of misconceptions and old wives’ tales attached to it, so here are the facts of how it affects our sleep.


What Many Believe

Plenty of us seem to think that having a few drinks gives you a better nights sleep than without, and to a point this is actually true. However, the overall influence is much more complex.

The instant effect of alcohol actually creates a rush of endorphins to the brain, stimulating, not sedating. We are then filled with ‘feel good’ chemicals which explain the rush of confidence drunk people get, and supports the phrase Dutch courage.

However, as this wears off the alcohol turns to a sedative, making us feel drowsy or sleepy. The more you have had to drink, the more powerful this sedation can be, which is potentially dangerous.


Sleep Disruption

While alcohol is proven to act as a sedative, it doesn’t mean you’ll be out for the rest of the night. It is true that as a result we find ourselves in a deeper sleep, but our chances of being more restless than usual are much more probable.

Alcohol is a particularly fast-acting drug, meaning that just as quickly as its effects take place, they wear off. Your liver swiftly metabolises any the alcohol you’ve consumed and the sedation then quickly wears off.

Once your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is then lowered, the influence is essentially reversed, boosting the chances of sleep being disrupted.


Sleep Disorders

Among its many effects, alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant. This can cause snoring or interrupted breathing because the muscles in the throat and airways relax.

While these are to things which anyone can suffer from, they are also symptoms of sleep apnea, a much more serious sleeping condition.


An Increased Need to Pee

Not exactly a big surprise to those who regularly drink, but alcohol can disrupt your sleep by forcing you to the toilet at all hours.

So why does it make you pee so much? Well, aside of consuming more fluid continuously than you normally might, it is because alcohol is a diuretic. Basically, it makes you urinate much more than the equivalent volume of non-alcoholic drinks.

This is because alcohol surpasses a hormone called vasopressin which is the hormone that regulates the amount of water absorbed by the kidneys. When our vasopressin is low our bladders send water straight into the kidneys, boosting our urge to pee, and pee more frequently.

Alcohol doesn’t stop there though and is the reason why as quickly as you’ve returned to bed, you feel your bladder has filled back up. This is because alcohol can boost the acidic content of urine which irritates the inner lining of our bladders.

This irritation makes it feel fuller than it actually is, dragging us out of bed multiple times to find out.


It Increases The Change Of Sleep Walking

While sleep-walking has been linked to genetics, there are three things which do boost the chances of it occurring, these being medication, exhaustion and alcohol.

Alcohol consumption sharply increases the amount of slow-wave-sleep (SWS) you might have, something which is in-line with sleepwalking.

All in all, despite what many believe the effects of alcohol to be on our sleep, it generally is negative. Whether it’s disrupting sleep, contributing to sleeping disorders or forcing us back and forth from the bathroom, alcohol has a detrimental effect on the way we sleep.