While alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep at night, it can rob you of the quality rest needed to function properly. Research has shown that drinking alcohol may make it difficult to obtain REM sleep. Furthermore, it also increases your risk of waking up multiple times throughout the night.
Why REM Sleep Is Important
This type of sleep is important because it is what allows our body to prepare itself for the following day. A lack of REM sleep could result in daytime drowsiness or trouble concentrating while awake. Typically, you start to go through the REM cycle about 90 minutes after first falling asleep. This is when you are most likely to have vivid dreams that you may remember upon waking up.
Alcohol Can Make It Harder to Breathe While Asleep
If you have sleep apnea, you are strongly discouraged from drinking alcohol before going to bed. This is because it can exacerbate breathing issues and cause you to wake up several times throughout the night. Even if you are relatively healthy, alcohol can still suppress your ability to breath properly. This may increase your risk of choking or gasping for breath multiple times while asleep.
Alcohol Can Cause You to Sleepwalk
While it may be slightly amusing to hear stories about you did while sleepwalking, it can pose a serious risk to your health. There is a chance that you could walk outside on a cold night or drive a car while not fully awake. In many cases, you will have little or no memory of what you did or tried to do while sleepwalking.
Using Alcohol as a Sleep Aid Can Lead to Dependency
Over time, you may find that you have to drink greater amounts of beer or liquor to fall asleep. This can be dangerous because you may eventually become dependent on alcohol during your waking hours as well. There are many potential negative consequences to alcohol dependency including losing a job or custody of your child. You may also experience nerve damage or organ failure if you overload your body with too many toxins.
How Much Is Too Much?
Medical professionals say that a drink or two before going to sleep is unlikely to have a significant impact on your life. However, this depends on your age, alcohol tolerance and other factors that may vary from person to person. Furthermore, drinking even a single drink at night on a regular basis can have a negative impact on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
You’re Not Actually Sleeping Better
You may feel as if you sleep better after having a beer or taking a shot of whiskey. However, researchers caution that you aren’t actually sleeping better even if you feel like you are when using alcohol as a sleep aid. They also caution that alcohol has no legitimate use as a sleep aid regardless of what you drink or when you drink it.
Drinking alcohol in moderation may have little to no impact on your life. However, if you are using it to fall asleep, it may be in your best interest to see a doctor as soon as possible. Doing so may help you overcome your sleep issue in a healthy and safe manner.