Think a nightcap may help you get a better night’s sleep? Think again.

A new review of 27 studies shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality. According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is often considered the most restorative type of sleep.

 

Think a nightcap may help you get a better night’s sleep? Think again.

A new review of 27 studies shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality. According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is often considered the most restorative type of sleep.

 

REM sleep happens about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. It’s the stage of sleep when people dream, and it’s thought to be restorative. Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and rob you of needed ZZZs; so if you fell irritable after a night of drinking, it could be due to a lack of REM.

 

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. REM sleep typically accounts for 20 to 25 percent of the sleep period.

The onset of the first REM sleep period is significantly delayed at all doses of alcohol and appears to be the most recognizable effect of alcohol on REM sleep, followed by a reduction in total night REM sleep.

Incidentally, alcohol is a diuretic, can make you need to go more, interrupting your normal sleep pattern.

Alcohol should not be used as a sleep aid, and regular use of alcohol as a sleep aid may result in alcohol dependence.

 

Want to sleep better, try these tips to develop some good sleep habits:

  • Get regular exercise, but no later than a few hours before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine.
  • Reserve the bed for sleeping.
  • Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature and dark.
  • Set regular wake and bed times.

Adapted by Charles Cleveland, MPH:

https://www.google.com/search?q=drinking+alcohol+rem+sleep&oq=drinking+alcohol+and+REM+sleep&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0.16119j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

April 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-01/ace-rae011413.php

Web Med, Jan. 22, 2013

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20130118/alcohol-sleep#1

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