After a long and stressful day, one or two servings of alcohol will help you fall asleep, right?
Yes, it will, but alcohol will have an influence on the quality of sleep, violating the natural cycles of this process. If you regularly drink more than the established norms, you can soon find that waking up the next day, you feel as if you did not have a rest at all. In addition, prolonged abuse can provoke insomnia.
The average adult should sleep about 8 hours a day. Although the functions of sleep are not fully understood, there is a large amount of evidence that the lack of it may lead to some consequences, among which there are depressive disorders, difficulties with breathing, heart problems. In addition, extra sleep leads to problems with memory, to violations of the social and professional role of man, as well as to car accidents.
Let’s consider some characteristics of normal sleep. A person undergoes two basic states during the sleep process, which have two different types of the brain activity. This is a state of slow and fast sleep. Rapid sleep takes about 25% of the total time, repeats every 90 minutes and lasts from 5 to 30 minutes. It is connected with dreams and is necessary for health, being the most important for the process of restoration of forces.
Alcohol interferes with the normal process of sleep. When a person drinks a large quantity of alcohol before going to bed, he or she can go immediately to the phase of deep sleep, skipping the first stage – the state of drowsiness or fast sleep.
Alcohol is metabolized at a high enough rate, its concentration in the blood drops to the middle of the night in most people after a few drinks drunk before going to bed, which often leads to withdrawal symptoms. Sleep becomes superficial; there are several awakenings. Thus, alcohol, although effective at the beginning of sleep, worsens it in the second half of the night and reduces the overall process time, leading to daytime sleepiness.
Deep sleep is the phase during which the body is restored, and alcohol interferes with this process. When the effect of alcohol ends, the body goes from the stage of deep sleep into a slumber phase, during which it is much easier to wake up. For this reason, after drinking alcohol, a person often wakes up after several hours of sleep.
If you have drunk several alcoholic drinks before going to bed, you will most likely have to visit WC more than once during the night. Alcohol has a diuretic effect, which means that it causes your body to lose even more fluid than sweat, leading to dehydration.
The reception of alcoholic beverages can provoke snoring. Alcohol reduces muscle tone and leads to relaxation of the pharynx musculature in the back of the oral cavity, which narrows or closes the air passage space during sleep. Chronic snoring can cause a dangerous violation of the rhythm of breathing and even lead to its stopping – the state of apnea.
Thus, alcohol causes anxious, intermittent and broken sleep.
If you drink alcohol, do not use it immediately before going to bed. Better let your body to have some time for processing. On average, one hour is needed to process one unit of drink. But this can depend on the characteristics of a particular person. If you cannot refuse to drink, it is better to drink two hours before going to bed, as its effect will weaken.