When drinking, alcohol insomnia only worsens. A person with insomnia is unable to fall asleep, or if they do fall asleep, they will wake up after just a few hours of sleep. The short amount of sleep a person with insomnia has after drinking alcohol is poor in quality, and the person will wake up feeling not well rested.
Many people have tried drinking alcohol at bedtime thinking that it would relax them and help them fall asleep. People also have the illusion that if they drink, they end up getting better sleep as well. However, consuming alcohol at bedtime can have just the opposite effect.
While it is true that we often feel more relaxed and even sleepy just after we have a drink, alcohol can cause dehydration and also can act as a stimulant. There's also been research showing that sleep patterns are affected by alcohol, particularly the deeper sleep cycle. This results in a person not having the quality of sleep needed to function efficiently and feel good throughout the day.
Initially, people who are not alcoholics may find that a drink before bedtime does, in fact, help them fall asleep faster. For this reason, people often advise friends or family that are having difficulty falling asleep to try having a drink before bedtime. This is often suggested because people believe that alcohol is a sedating agent.
However, when one drink of alcohol is consumed even as much as six hours before bedtime, it is shown that it disrupts the second half of a person’s sleep. If you continue to drink right up until bedtime, alcohol’s disruptive effects continue or increase and alcohol insomnia will be present.
Here are some facts about alcohol insomnia that you may not be familiar with:
- Alcohol is actually said to be worse for your sleep quality than caffeine.
- alcohol dehydrates the body
- alcohol produces adrenaline in the body, which interrupts a person’s sleep
- alcohol can also interfere with your sleep simply because you need to go to the bathroom more often than if you had not been drinking alcohol, and because you feel more thirsty than usual
- If you are going to have an occasional drink, it is recommended that you avoid drinking any alcohol within two hours of bedtime and do not make it a habit to drink every night.
A non-alcoholic who has a drink at bedtime on a regular basis will notice that over time, it no longer helps them fall asleep like it did in the beginning. People who drink regularly before bedtime often notice that it takes them longer to fall asleep, they wake up frequently throughout the night, and have a very poor quality of sleep. This is, of course, followed by daytime fatigue.
Not only does alcohol not help insomnia, but it can actually lead to insomnia. Alcohol abuse and abuse of other substances put people at a much higher risk for developing sleep problems than those who do not. This is because of the direct effects of the substances people are using, as well as a substance’s withdrawal symptoms.
There are particular circumstances that make drinking alcohol at bedtime of even more concern.
- Drinking alcohol can be particularly dangerous if you suffer from sleep apnea because it can make the condition worse and very dangerous.
- High doses of alcohol consumed in the evening can also narrow the air passageways causing sleep apnea in people who do not otherwise have it.
- In addition, the combination of alcohol, sleep apnea, and snoring increases a person's risk for heart attack, arrhythmias, and sudden death.
- The elderly are particularly at risk because they achieve higher levels of alcohol in the brain and blood. Drinking alcohol at bedtime can cause elderly people to become unsteady while walking. Therefore, aside from the harmful effects alcohol has on the body, the elderly are at more risk of falling or walking into something during the night, leading to serious injuries.
- You must also be extremely careful if your doctor has given you any kind of medication for insomnia or if you are using an over-the-counter insomnia medication. You should never mix alcohol with any of these medications, as it can be very dangerous and even potentially fatal.
- Drinking alcohol at bedtime for insomnia can also cause a person to become dependent on alcohol. Insomnia not only worses, but now, instead of just dealing with insomnia, alcohol abuse or alcoholism may become an additional problem.
If a person develops a dependence on alcohol at bedtime and then they try to stop drinking, they undergo a vicious cycle. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin, which causes insomnia and sleep disturbances, even in people who are not alcoholics. In some cases, even when alcohol withdrawal symptoms are finished, alcoholics may not go back to having completely normal sleep patterns. Alcohol insomnia keeps people in a cycle of drinking.
It has been reported that even after years of sobriety, recovering alcoholics sleep poorly. If they then resort to heavy drinking, it leads to restful sleep and decreased wakefulness for a period of time. This in turn will likely encourage continued drinking by the person who is having a relapse. However, as drinking continues, sleep patterns will inevitably become disrupted again. Alcohol insomnia inevitably reappears.
There are many treatments for insomnia, but never should one of them be alcohol. Insomnia is actually one of the most common problems that people with addictions or alcoholism suffer from. If you have a sleep disorder, it also increases the risk of engaging in drug abuse or alcohol consumption.
Unfortunately, the sleep difficulties you experience when you're abstinent make it three times more likely that you will suffer from a relapse than those who don't have sleep problems.