Does Alcohol Actually Help You Sleep?

Alcohol is a fickle friend, especially when it comes to achieving a deep slumber.

Here’s why.

As a drug, alcohol acts as a depressant on the body. It affects your central nervous system by reducing neurotransmitters’ rates of activity, causing the relaxed, sedated and uninhibited state which many of us recognise as the pleasure of drinking.

These depressant effects also mean it’s easier to settle down for a snooze after a few brewskis (flashback to every party when someone inevitably falls asleep on the couch/lawn/bathtub).

Unfortunately, while alcohol can make you tired, achieving a good night’s rest while on the piss isn’t likely.

Just as you lie your head down after a big night, all those drinks come back to bite you, preventing a proper REM sleep phase from occurring. Apart from being the stage of sleep where you dream, REM is also responsible for ensuring that your stores of dopamine and serotonin are restored, and that your memories from the day are processed. Without this recharge, you’re cranky, tired, and a bit doughy the next day.

After drinking you’re also more likely to wake up too, whether it be from needing to pee, being too hot, or from feeling nauseous – all well-known side effects of knocking back one too many.

A nightcap of brandy or wine might be your grandma’s sure-fire way of getting a good night’s sleep, but the habit of needing a drink before bed can bring on alcohol dependence, nanna. And, after some time, you might need more drinks to achieve the same effect.

So the next time you’re struggling to catch some Z’s, instead of reaching to a bottle of wine, brew up some herbal tea, have a vigorous shag, or .

This article was written by Emma Bendall. When she is not writing, she can most often be found watching food documentaries or cuddling her cats. 

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