New Research Shows Alcohol Effects Sleep Negatively
Most people subscribe to the idea that a nightcap before bed helps relax the body and mind, thus promoting a good nights rest. Recent studies on how alcohol effects sleep are proving that this may not always be the case. What researchers are finding is that consuming alcohol before bed adversely effects sleep in a number of different ways. Primarily, alcohol effects sleep by increasing two kinds of activity in the brain. The first type of activity is the type that is usually associated with restoration and replenishment. This is the activity that helps your brain recuperate over night from dealing with day to day life. The second type of activity that is heightened when consuming alcohol before bed is the type of activity that keeps you alert and awake during the day. These two types of activity occurring at the same time are counterproductive, therefore causing the brain to never fully rest during sleep.The second way alcohol effects sleep negatively is the way it effects the stages of sleep. This disruption occurs most often during deep sleep (REM sleep). REM sleep is the dream state of sleep and thought to be the stage where the brain relaxes and restores itself over night. Studies show that having this phase of sleep interrupted deteriorates the quality of sleep and can causes drowsiness, memory issues, and poor concentration during the day. It also can lead to other issues while sleeping such as sleep walking and sleep talking.Thirdly, consuming alcohol before sleeping can lead to issues with breathing while sleeping. These breathing problems can lead to sleep apnea, a condition where one stops breathing multiple times, sometimes hundreds while sleeping. The cessation of breathing that many times during sleep can cause drowsiness and poor cognitive abilities during the day.Rather than using alcohol as a sleep aid, one should consult with their doctor about alternative ways to help with insomnia and falling asleep. These can include anything from natural remedies to exercising before bed. Avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine before going to sleep are key to a more relaxing and restful sleep. Next time you reach for that bottle of wine or that glass of beer, think about the negative impact that this beverage may have on your sleep. While it may seem like a good solution to a small problem, the effects over the long term can be much more damaging.
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