Struggling to sleep? Why just 2 glasses of wine can ruin your bedtime – how to avoid this
Tips to Improve Sleep – Express Health
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Over the course of the last year, one in four adults have increased their alcohol intake according to research from addiction treatment specialists at Delamare. While alcohol is known to pose a number of risks to health, ruining sleep quality is one common issue that can be overlooked.
According to Delamare, people who drink too much alcohol can be left feeling “drowsy and sleep-deprived” come the morning.
But, what could surprise you, is how many drinks can contribute towards a bad night of sleep.
Delamare says that people drinking more than six units in one sitting, which is categorised as “binge drinking” in the UK, are at the most risk of losing vital hours snoozing.
Six units of alcohol translate to two pints of five percent strength beer, or two large glasses (250ml) of 12 percent wine.
However, there is some evidence to suggest that even one alcoholic drink could be detrimental to rest.
A 2018 study found that alcohol can significantly affect sleep quality, regardless of unit consumption.
The researchers analysed the sleep and alcohol habits of more than 4,000 adults between 18 to 65-years-old.
Findings revealed that low alcohol intake reduced sleep quality by 9.3 percent, moderate alcohol intake reduced sleep quality by 24 percent and heavy alcohol-reduced sleep quality by nearly 40 percent.
Why does alcohol disrupt sleep patterns?
Alcohol disrupts your body’s natural sleep cycle. Binge drinking can send our bodies into deep sleep, disrupting the first two cycles of REM sleep.
Delamare said: “As alcohol is a depressant, the start of sleep is often shorter for individuals, and some fall into deep sleep quicker than usual.
“This often creates an imbalance in the sleep cycle between slow-wave sleep and REM sleep and disrupts the restorative stage our body needs.
“This can leave us feeling exhausted the following day, no matter how long we stay in bed.”
Your body also has to work overtime to try and filter alcohol out of your system, which can leave you feeling as though you have had little time to recharge once morning comes.
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When alcohol is consumed, the substance is absorbed into the bloodstream from the stomach.
Enzymes in the liver metabolise the alcohol throughout the night. During this process, the alcohol will still be circulating through the body, causing sleep disruptions and poor sleep quality.
Other sleep disruptions can include waking more frequently to visit the toilet and night sweats.
Over time, the consistent use of alcohol can contribute to long-term sleep problems.
These include vivid dreams and nightmares, sleepwalking and parasomnias and even breathing problems such as sleep apnea.
How can you improve your sleep if affected by alcohol?
Delamare recommends avoiding any alcoholic drinks close to bedtime.
The experts said: “If you enjoy drinking alcohol, try to avoid it close to bedtime.
“You need to give your body time to process the alcohol you have consumed before you attempt to sleep. It takes on average two hours per unit to process alcohol, but this can vary from person to person.”
They also advise cutting out binge drinking, not only to benefit sleep but for overall health.
Tips on stopping binge drinking include:
- Alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water
- Eating before drinking, as you are less likely to consume vast amounts of alcohol on a full stomach
- Avoid mixing your alcoholic drinks
- Sticking to low alcohol beverages
- Addressing the cause of your alcohol binges, perhaps by visiting a counsellor, doctor or therapist
- Avoiding drinking with other excessive drinkers who are likely to place pressure on you to do the same
- Avoiding games that involve alcohol
- Only taking a certain amount of money out with you, just enough to buy a few drinks
- Consider cutting out alcohol altogether
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