A report produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that 5.9% of the Australian population have at least 1 drink a day, and 35.8% have at least 1 drink weekly. So, we can assume that most are familiar with the sleepy feeling that usually accompanies alcohol consumption, but does that necessarily mean you’re going to have a good night’s sleep? Absolutely not, and here’s why:
You’re sleepy now, but not for long!
After ingesting alcohol, the production of adenosine, which is a chemical that induces sleepiness, is increased in the body. This explains the sudden on-set of drowsiness. Although this gets you to sleep quickly, the adenosine boost is short-lived. Once it wears off your body will likely jolt you awake before you’ve had your full night’s sleep.
You won’t be able to complete a full sleep cycle
Alcohol consumption actively suppresses REM sleep. This interruption disturbs the normal flow through your sleep cycle, preventing you from getting quality sleep. REM sleep is the most restorative sleep, it’s important for converting your experiences from the day into long-term memories as well as rejuvenating the parts of your brain involved in learning. Cutting short this part of your sleep cycle will leave you feeling unrefreshed and groggy the next morning.
You’ll be running to the bathroom, often!
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it draws water and salt out of your body through urine. This means along with your brain keeping you up, the frequent trips to the bathroom are going to wake you throughout the night.
Snoring and breathing problems
Alcohol is a depressant, and part of its sedative powers is that it relaxes your body. This includes your throat muscles and jaw. As these muscles collapse over your airways it leads to a restriction in airflow leading to snoring and in some cases sleep apnoea.
Coming into the holiday season it’s important to enjoy yourself but remember – everything in moderation. Follow these tips to have your beer and drink it too!
- Give your body 3-4 hours to process the alcohol before hitting the sheets, this is how long it takes to metabolise a standard drink.
- For every alcoholic drink you have, have two glasses of water. This helps flush out the alcohol and excess sugar from your system and helps to replenish the fluid you’re losing from sweating and frequent bathroom trips.
- Think twice about bubbles. The bubbles in fizzy drinks and mixers cause bloating and gas which distends your stomach creating a larger surface area that the alcohol can be absorbed across.
- Eat! Eating and drinking at the same time will ensure that you pace yourself. As well as that, alcohol that has been soaked up by food will be absorbed into your body at a much slower rate than alcohol on its own.
- Do not mix with certain medications. You should never mix alcohol with medication as both can have sedative effects on your respiratory system. A double whammy to the system that keeps you breathing is a dangerous combination!
Eat, drink and be merry!