Drinking alcohol isn’t all bad in terms of health. Sipping one to two drinks per day helps to increase HDL cholesterol levels – the good form of cholesterol that protects against heart disease. On the other hand, women should think twice before drinking even one alcoholic beverage since as little as one drink daily increases the risk of breast cancer. Some people enjoy having a drink at bedtime in hopes of helping them sleep more soundly. Others even use it regularly as a treatment for insomnia. How does alcohol affect sleep?
Does Alcohol Cause Insomnia: How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?
Despite the fact that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and makes people drowsy, some experts believe it worsens insomnia Drinking alcohol around bedtime makes it easier to fall asleep, but does it lead to more frequent awakenings and fatigue the next day?
Because people so commonly use alcohol to help with sleep problems, researchers took a closer look at how alcohol affects sleep. In a study to be published in the Annals of Family Medicine, they looked at the sleep and alcohol habits of almost 1,700 adults from forty different primary care clinics.
Surprisingly, they found that drinking alcohol had no real impact on sleep quality or insomnia. What they did find is that people who drink alcohol to sleep are more likely to have alcohol-related problems that could put them or others in danger. Thus, using alcohol to sleep may be a sign that a person needs professional help.
Drinking Alcohol and Sleep: The Bottom Line?
Despite the results of this new study on alcohol and sleep, drinking alcohol at bedtime isn’t a smart idea. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means more trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Plus, other studies show that alcohol causes more frequent nighttime awakenings. Most importantly, using alcohol as a sleep aid can be a sign of problem drinking.
If you know someone who’s treating their insomnia with alcohol, encourage them to see their doctor. There are better options for getting a good night’s rest that are less risky than using alcohol. It’s better to make lifestyle changes or use meditation or self-hypnosis to wind down. Instead of drinking alcohol, try a cup of hot chamomile tea instead.
Medical News Today. “Alcohol Consumption Not Associated with Sleep Problems”
Psychiatric Times. Vol. 21 No. 2