Do Alcohol and Sleep mix? What impact does alcohol have on our sleep patterns and our body as it rests?

Sleep and Alcohol. Blog about how alcohol affects our sleep and body rest

OK so sleep is super important, for those of us with children we can look back and relate to exactly how it made us feel when we were sleep deprived from having a new baby in the house! 

It’s recommended that we get somewhere between 7 and 8 hours sleep a night but alcohol disrupts critical parts of your sleep cycle; if you rely on alcohols’ sedative effects to get you off to sleep you’ll know that more often than not, you wake up feeling less than refreshed.
When we sleep our bodies repair themselves, if we are not getting enough of the right quality of sleep the body can’t repair itself properly and we end up suffering with ailments both physically and mentally.
Just one drink will interrupt your sleep pattern.  For our bodies to work effectively we need to go through six or seven sleep cycles of REM sleep. However when you drink you typically only have two.

When we drink we tend to go into a very deep sleep for about 5 hours during which the alcohol withdrawl starts. It peaks at around 5 hours, then you sleep fitfully and are unlikely to return to a deep sleep, which is why we often hear ourselves saying “I’m not hungover, I just feel a bit tired”. Even if we have slept all night, it hasn’t been a restful sleep and we wake up feeling groggy. 

Quite often as we ladies get older we wake up and decide we need the toilet, when we get back into bed our monkey mind starts working overtime and the ‘hanxiety’ sends us into a feeling of overwhelm, these all prevent us from getting back to sleep.

Sleep deprivation has an impact on: 

  • Our temperament, it makes us impatient
  • We feel stress more easily
  • We are less likely to exercise (impacting our energy levels)
  • We are more prone to over eat when we’re tired, affecting our weight gain
  • We are more likely to get overwhelmed which affects our anxiety levels! 

And what are we more likely to do when we feel anxious or stressed….have a drink to ‘take the edge off or ‘help us relax’ and so the cycle continues.

For women transitioning into menopause, sleep problems are often par for the course. In fact, approximately 61 percent of women who are postmenopausal experience frequent bouts of insomnia.

Going through menopause can affect your sleep cycle on three different levels.

1. Hormone levels: a natural decrease in oestrogen causing anxiety and then drinking alcohol adding to the problem. Hormone changes naturally affecting your sleep patterns and alcohol also disrupts your night, a double whammy!

  1. Hot flushes: Those dreaded night sweats! When we consume alcohol our body has to use the energy because it can't be stored like other forms of energy we consume. What it doesn’t use, it turns into heat which is why many of us wake up in the middle of the night sweating after drinking too much. I know that used to be one of the things that woke me up every time I overdrank! Hot flushes and night sweats are a well recognised symptom of menopause and night sweats disrupt our sleeping pattern so if we add in heating up the body to use up excess alcohol energy you can see how it would make our night sweats worse and be a frequent sleep disturbance.
  2. Medication: The medication you may be on can cause insomnia. Just as natural chemical and hormonal changes can interfere with sleep, so can changes caused by any medicines or supplements you’re taking. Sleep disturbance is a side effect for many medications, so if you’re beginning a new medicine or using an over-the-counter supplement, it may well contribute to your insomnia. Likewise, alcohol can be a contraindication for some medications too. So if your drinking and on medication your sleep will more than likely be disrupted.

So you can see that if you already have a great sleeping history and you only drink every now and again, the impact is likely to be small but if you are already suffering from poor sleep or insomnia, taking medication, night sweats or suffering from anxiety, drinking alcohol makes things a whole lot worse, and over time will affect our mental health as we become more and more sleep deprived.

There are ways to help you get good quality sleep such as making sure you have a good sleep hygiene routine. Things like no screens an hour before bedtime, a calm environment and a comfortable temperature, maybe a sleep meditation or story would help too.  My favourite way is to have a nice cup of herbal tea. Twinings have their own Sleep tea in their Superblend range as do Pukka but my absolute favourites are from Bird and Blend. They have three teas to help you sleep Doazygirl Camomile, Moondrop Dreams or Deckchair Dreaming. They even sell a Dreamer's Gift Cube so you can treat yourself or a friend with 12 individually wrapped tea bags in all 3 of their sleepy tea flavours! 

Stay connected with news and updates!

If you' d like to keep in touch, join our mailing list and we'll keep you up to date with what we're up to and new products we find that we're enjoying, so you have the opportunity to enjoy them too!

We hate SPAM. Your details are safe with us.