Alcohol before bed impedes sleep
The holidays are filled with parties and good cheer. But, as always, remember to engage in holiday mirth responsibly—both for your safety and your health.
According to one study, consuming alcohol before bed has a negative impact on sleep. The study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that alcohol consumption leads to faster sleep, but also to more disruption in the later stages of sleep—stages in which the body repairs tissue, builds bone and muscle and strengthens the immune system.
“The higher the [alcohol] dose, the greater the impact on increasing deep sleep,” said Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director at the London Sleep Centre, where the study took place. “This effect on the first half of sleep may be partly the reason some people with insomnia use alcohol as a sleep aid. However, the effect of consolidating sleep in the first half of the night is offset by having more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night.”
The study also found that alcohol can increase certain sleep-related issues such as sleepwalking or sleep apnea in those who are predisposed.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.
Sleep patterns aside, it’s a good idea to limit your holiday drinking for some of these other health reasons:
- Chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells); pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); various cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (the voice box), and esophagus; high blood pressure; and psychological disorders
- Unintentional injuries, such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries
- Violence, such as child maltreatment, homicide, and suicide
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