Is Alcohol Impacting Your Sleep?

Are you waking up feeling unrested or rising during the night? If so, you may want to consider skipping your evening wine or cocktail.

Up to 20 percent of people admit to using alcohol to help them fall asleep, but that strategy inevitably backfires since the quality of sleep suffers when you are under the influence.

The Impact of Alcohol on Sleep

Alcohol negatively impacts the body in a host of ways that affect sleep, from decreasing melatonin to disrupting the circadian rhythm, aggravating sleep apnea and increasing nighttime urination, resulting in more frequent trips to the bathroom.

It can also impact your performance the next day due to decreased concentration, increased sluggishness and compromised memory. Anyone who has ever suffered through a hangover knows how unproductive the next day can be. But even a drink or two can impact your ability to focus the next day.

Long-Term Health Implications

One-third of our lives are spent sleeping, and adequate rest is as essential to our wellbeing as exercising and eating healthy. Poor sleep can be a precursor to a host of health problems ranging from obesity to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A Sleep Foundation study found that even low amounts of alcohol before bed (less than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women) can decrease sleep quality by almost 10 per cent while anything more than this amount can decrease sleep quality by 40 percent. If you are prone to late-night drinks this could be adding up to long-term health implications.

Take a Sleep Reset

If you aren’t sure how significantly alcohol may be affecting the quality of your sleep, take a break from drinking for a couple of weeks to see how you feel. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much more refreshed, energized and happier you feel upon waking.

If you still aren’t feeling refreshed, try these six additional ways to improve your sleep hygiene:

1.   Avoid large meal slate in the day: Have dinner at least three hours before going to bed.

2.   Reduce your caffeine intake after noon: Did you know 50 per cent of caffeine is still present in the body four to six hours after being consumed?

3.   Exercise regularly:Physical exertion will help you fall asleep faster and longer.

4.   Reduce distractions: Keep the TV in another room. Ditto for your electronics.

5.   Try deep breathing at bedtime:This can help lower the heart rate and blood pressure while increasing melatonin and the feel-good serotonin hormone.

6.   Stick to a predictable sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and, if you must nap, keep it short (30 minutes ideally, and no more than one hour).