Alcohol does not improve your sleep

Alcohol does not improve your sleep

The myth that a drink before bed is good or gives you a healthy sleep is bogus.

The biggest ever mega-analysis review summary of more than 100 studies on ‘alcohol and sleep’ has just been released. 

What did the researchers find after carefully reviewing the 27 most thorough scientific studies covering the impact of drinking alcohol on nocturnal sleep?

  • Alcohol shortens the time it takes to fall asleep
  • Alcohol increases deep sleep
  • However it reduces REM sleep which eventually gives you a worse sleep

“Dreams generally occur in the REM stage of sleep.  During REM sleep the brain is more active, and may be regarded as ‘defragmenting the drive’.  REM sleep is also important because it can influence memory and serve restorative functions.  Conversely, lack of REM sleep can have a detrimental effect on concentration, motor skills, and memory.  The onset of the first REM sleep period is significantly delayed at all doses and appears to be the most recognizable effect of alcohol on REM sleep, followed by a reduction in total night REM sleep.  The effect of consolidating sleep in the first half of the night is offset by having more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night.  The more a person drinks before bed, the stronger the disruption”
Irshaad Ebrahim, study author, medical director at The London Sleep Centre.

“Alcohol tricks people into thinking they are getting better sleep.  People who drink alcohol often think their sleep is improved, but it is not”
Scott Krakower, DO, addiction specialist at North Shore-LIJ in Mineola, New York.

“Certainly a mythology seems to have developed around the impact of alcohol on sleep.  It is a good time to review the research as the mythology seems to be flourishing more rapidly than the research itself.  Also, our understanding of sleep has accelerated in the past 30 years, which has meant that some of the initial interpretations need to be revisited.  One consequence of [alcohol-induced] delayed onset of the first REM sleep would be less restful sleep.  Alcohol on the whole is not useful for improving a whole night’s sleep.  Sleep may be deeper to start with, but then becomes disrupted.  Additionally, that deeper sleep will probably promote snoring and poorer breathing.  So, one shouldn’t expect better sleep with alcohol.  There is also a linkage with depression”
Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre.

Study published in the April 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.  Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER) is the official journal of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism.  Co-authors of the ACER paper, "Alcohol and Sleep I: Effects on Normal Sleep," were: Colin M. Shapiro of the Department of Psychiatry and Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto; and Adrian J. Williams and Peter B. Fenwick of the London Sleep Centre.  As reported by ScienceDaily and WebMD on January 22, 2013.


Posted: Friday 25 January 2013