Alcohol ruins sleep more than you think - but there are ways for you to get the sleep you need and avoid the hangover side effects!
It’s the night we’re always waiting for - Friday night. You’ve been looking forward to shaking off your busy week. Visions of martini’s and beer pong, dancing, and socializing with your favourite peeps fill your mind.
You race home to change out of your work clothes and into something fun. As you're carefully mulling over your choices, you check your voicemail and hear a reminder of an appointment firstthing in the morning that you had completely forgotten about.
Great, you think. You are already dreading your morning knowing you will likely be hungover. You start daydreaming of a universe where hangovers don’t exist - what a beautiful world that would be…
Well, GOOD NEWS, because there are supplements out there that can help!
Hangovers are a direct consequence of drinking alcohol, with symptoms including:
muscle aches nausea anxiety irritability sensitivity to light and sound
You can thank acetaldehyde (a harmful toxin that builds while you're drinking), dehydration, and gastrointestinal trauma for your hangover, but one of the biggest consequences of drinking alcohol is:
But I thought alcohol helped me sleep...
It's a very common misconception.
A little booze may help you fall asleep, but alcohol can wreak havoc on your peaceful slumber during the second half of the night.
This is known as the “rebound effect” or the “why am I awake at 5 am with a bunch of energy?” effect.
Why does alcohol help me fall asleep?
Alcohol mimics an important chemical messenger in your brain called GABA. This causes a sedative effect in your body which is the main reason that nightcaps are so popular.
PUMPS YOU UP!
As your body metabolizes alcohol, your brain responds to this disruption by blasting an excitatory chemical messenger called glutamate. Excitatory chemicals aren’t exactly helpful for sleep.
DISRUPTS SLEEP CYCLES!
Alcohol’s sedative effect means you fall into deep sleep more quickly. This sounds nice but it can create an imbalance in your sleep cycles which reduces sleep quality and quantity.
BAD BEDMATE ALERT!
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes your body to lose extra fluid. This leads to more bathroom breaks and can exacerbate snoring and sleep apnea.
HOW DOES ALCOHOL WREAK HAVOC ON SLEEP?
HOW TO BEAT HANGOVERS (AND PREVENT ALCOHOL FROM RUINING YOUR SLUMBER)
Now that you understand how your sleep gets obliterated by alcohol - and how that contributes to your hangover, we have come to the rescue with preventative measures you can take to reduce the effects. It's not a cure, but reducing some of the pain can mean getting to enjoy your nights out without cancelling all your next-day plans.
Option #1: Combat the effects of alcohol's toxins with natural supplements!
Remember when we mentioned that you can thank acetaldehyde for your hangover? This harmful toxin is responsible for the "intoxicated" feeling you get from drinking alcohol and is the main reason that you feel hungover the next day. It's also responsible for the reason why your brain has to work overtime through the night.
Alcohol dehydrates you (and so does sleep!) so it's incredibly important to make sure you are continuously hydrating yourself during a night of drinking. Experts advice at least one drink of water for every serving of alcohol to reduce some of the effects.
Option #3: Slow the absorption by drinking on a full stomach!
If you drink on an empty stomach, you will feel all the effects and side effects of alcohol much quicker. Eating a full meal before you start drinking can slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. The best options are foods with high water content, such as fruits and vegetables (which will also help you stay hydrated - win win!).
Option #4: Know your limits!
Just one drink can disrupt your sleep. One drink is usually equivalent to about a can (12 ounces) of beer, a glass (5 ounces) of wine, or a shot (1.5 ounces) of spirits. The more alcohol you drink, the more your sleep can be disrupted.
But I have a high alcohol tolerance...
Another common misconception.
Even though regular drinkers tend to build up a tolerance to the sedative effects of booze, sleep disturbances caused by alcohol do not decrease.
It’s an unfortunate reality, but long-term alcohol use is associated with chronic sleep problems.