Using alcohol as a sleep aid? Think again

Health and Sports
Man drinking himself to sleep

When Hari’s stranger-turned-live-in-girlfriend Tanya moved away, she cleaned up his stuff too. Money, his SleepX Flexi Pillow, three pairs of his grizzly bear pyjamas, and other less important things from his stock of essentials. The poor chump was left high & dry and took to drinking himself to abandoned sleep. For a while, it went on. He’d drink himself into a stupor and then pass out on his bed. But before he knew it he was sleepwalking, sleep talking and even forgetting Motichand’s name (his pet lab, and the one thing Tanya had left behind).


Hari’s tale may seem like a sad caricature of a story to you but its implications are harshly real. Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep specialist in Scottsdale, Ariz. says “Alcohol is not an appropriate sleep aid. If you rely on alcohol to fall asleep, recognize that you have a greater likelihood to sleepwalk, sleep talk, and have problems with your memory.”1 The effect drinking has on our sleep is something we do not consider enough. While it makes you drowsy and helps you fall asleep faster, it spoils the quality of sleep in the long run. Let’s see what happens, through a zoom lens.


It sends your circadian rhythm for a toss

Circadian rhythms (the body clock) direct most of the body processes like metabolism, immunity, sleep, sexual drive and mood. Binge-drinking botches the body clock’s ability to sync daily activities to light and messes up everyday patterns. It affects the circadian rhythm even days after you stop drinking.


It disrupts dREaM sleep

If you think that nightcaps are the way to go for good ZZZs, think again. According to studies, alcohol reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep2. REM is the sleep you get around 90 minutes after you have dozed off and is the most relaxing and restorative part of your slumber. It’s that awesome stage of sleep when you dream. Drinking disrupts REM sleep and this can cause daytime drowsiness and poor concentration.


It makes breathing problems worse

Drinking makes all your body muscles relax. Your throat muscles too. This can make you snore like a bear. Don’t say we didn’t warn you if your partner switches beds. On a more serious note, this can lead to sleep apnea.


It makes you run to the loo more

Your body puts your bladder into slumber mode at night as it knows night time is meant for rejuvenating shut-eye. But alcohol, a diuretic, makes you want to pee more, disturbing your sleep pattern.




To make sure you’re not hijacked by drowsiness while driving read our post 5 sleep hacks to stay safe on the road.

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