Ditch The Night Cap, "Cheers" To Better Sleep!
From birthdays and anniversaries to work functions and especially the holidays, it’s rare to celebrate anything without raising a glass. But how does that sip of champagne or mug of spiked eggnog affect you when it’s time to sleep?
Sure, alcohol makes most of us sleepy - it is, after all, a sedative. But you might be surprised to know that while a drink or two may relax you, your quality of sleep is going to suffer. Alcohol has a disruptive effect on sleep; from keeping you from enjoying that deep REM sleep to waking you up because you have to pee (alcohol is a diuretic).
Here’s what you can expect if you have one (or maybe one too many) around bedtime.
Fragmented Sleep. You may feel relaxed, but your body is still working to process that alcohol through your bloodstream. So while your eyes may be heavy, your organs are working overtime.
Lighter Sleeping. If you’re a light sleeper to begin with you’ll probably wake up feeling pretty unsatisfied. When there’s alcohol in your system - even a little - you body and brain have trouble falling into deep sleep. Instead, you stay in Stage 1 and 2 of sleep (see below);
Stage 1: light sleep - when you can be awoken easily
Stage 2: heart rate and brain waves become slow; body prepares for sleep
Stage 3: Enter deep sleep
Stage 4: Full on deep sleep - cell repair
Stage 5: REM sleep (that’s the sweet stuff!)
Dehydration: You may have chugged a whole case of beer but that doesn’t make you the picture of hydration. Because your body needs to flush out all that alcohol, guess what happens? You spend the night in the bathroom. And because of the timing of it, you’ll likely be waking up more when you should be getting into those deep sleep hours, making you feel more like you were hit by a bus come morning.
One last thing…
While 1-2 glasses is fine with dinner, 3-4 glasses is not the best way to get ready for sleep and a terrible habit when it comes to your long-term sleep health. There’s nothing wrong with a nightcap, but if you want to sleep better cap-it at just 1 or 2.
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