With the holidays just around the corner, there will be food and there may be alcohol involved as well. Even if you are not celebrating with family, you might choose to have a nightcap before bed, which often helps you feel tired. However, it does not guarantee that you will get a good night’s rest. 

In fact, according to a recent survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 68% of Americans have lost sleep due to drinking alcohol after bedtime. This includes one in five adults who often lost sleep due to alcohol consumption. Knowing this, it is important to understand why alcohol and sleep do not work well together.

Sleep and alcohol don’t mix

Many people believe that drinking alcohol before bed will help them get a better night’s rest, but that is not true. It can actually cause you to wake up frequently throughout the night. To make matters worse, 75% of men lost sleep compared to 60% of women. Adults in the 35-44 age range also were more likely to stay up too late drinking, in turn losing sleep.

If you consume alcohol an hour before bedtime, it reduces your melatonin production. When this happens, it can disrupt your circadian rhythms, which is your internal clock. This is what regulates your 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. 

How alcohol negatively impacts sleep

When drinking alcohol before you go to bed, it can also negatively impact the quality of your sleep by:

  • Triggering new sleep disorders or exacerbating ones, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. 
  • Causing excessive relaxation of the muscles in the head, neck and throat. This can interfere with normal breathing during sleep.
  • Increasing the need to get up and go to the bathroom throughout the night. 
  • Leading to increased risk for parasomnias such as sleepwalking and sleep eating.

When alcohol leads to sleep disruption, it can also contribute to feeling fatigued the next day. You may also experience irritability and difficulty concentrating. 

Avoid interrupted sleep and exhaustion

To improve your nightly sleep and reduce your feeling of next-day exhaustion, you can:

  • Stop drinking alcohol at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Stay hydrated and drink water.
  • Avoid bubbly drinks. 
  • Eat a light snack before bed.

Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information on how to improve your sleep.