Does Alcohol Affect Sleep And How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?

There’s nothing that prepares you for the upcoming day than getting a good night’s sleep, but if you’re drinking alcohol the night before, then your body probably has different plans.

Keep in mind that just because you’ve passed out from drinking, that doesn’t mean your body is actually getting a restful sleep. Here’s what you need to know about whether or not alcohol affects sleep.

When you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep, one of the main things that people worry about is alcohol. It’s pretty clear that alcohol will affect you. But should you avoid drinking before bedtime?

How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?

Alcohol affects sleep by interrupting your body’s ability to give you a restful sleep for a number of different reasons.

Did you know that alcohol can actually affect your sleep in a negative way? Studies have found that alcohol and other substances in the body disrupt the natural sleep cycle. This, in turn, affects your sleep quality and how much restorative sleep you get.

If you drink on a regular basis and still find it hard to fall asleep, you may want to cut down on your drinking, which can be easier said than done but is still a worthwhile goal. That way, you can also avoid the negative effects of alcohol on your sleep.

Drinking alcohol is a major no-no before bedtime. But why? It’s because alcohol slows down your metabolism, which is the process by which your body uses energy. If your metabolism is slowed down, your body won’t be able to use energy to produce enough sleep hormones, which is why you won’t be able to fall asleep.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, people who consumed three or more alcoholic drinks before bedtime reported the worst sleep quality and duration, the highest number of sleep interruptions, and awakenings during the night.

Another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that consuming alcohol the night before bedtime resulted in poorer sleep quality and less time spent in deep sleep.

Stages Of Sleep and How Alcohol Impacts Them

To understand the effect of alcohol on sleep effectively, you should know about the stages of sleep.

Stage 1. REM (Rapid Eye Movement)

It is the stage of sleep when the eyes move rapidly known as Rapid Eye Movement. The REM sleep stage occurs about every 90 minutes and is considered the best time for rest. It is also known as the dream stage of sleep.

You may be surprised to know that you get less REM sleep after drinking alcohol. You can have up to 30% of your sleep as REM sleep. But when you drink alcohol, you may get only 5% of your sleep as REM sleep.

Alcohol affects the body in this phase. When you drink alcohol, your body may feel more tired than usual. This is because your body needs more sleep than usual to recover from the alcohol.

Your body is less likely to enter REM sleep when you drink alcohol. This is because alcohol suppresses the production of certain chemicals that are needed for the body to enter REM sleep.

Stage 2. NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement)

This is the lightest stage of sleep. It’s the stage when you doze off and experience a light sleep. The stage of sleep in which your body is relaxed. The brain and muscles are inactive. Your heart rate slows down.

As one moves into a deeper stage of sleep, their heartbeat and respiratory rate both drop down. Temperatures fall, and the eyelids close, indicating that the body is cooling down. In most cases, stage 2 sleep is the most lengthy of the four phases.

Why Does Alcohol Cause Insomnia?

Insomnia is the second most prevalent sleep condition, characterized as a chronic issue with sleep start, intensity, concentration, or condition. Over-sleeping is a common symptom of insomnia, making it difficult to function throughout the day.

People who consume alcohol before going to bed are more likely to have sleep problems and wake up feeling drowsy the next day due to the interruptions that alcohol may bring to REM sleep.

This may lead individuals into a deadly cycle of consciousness with alcohol to feel sleepy, drinking coffee and other boosters throughout the day to wake up, as well as drinking alcohol as a tranquilizer to balance the symptoms of these boosters.

When a person consumes an inappropriate quantity of alcohol in such a brief span of time that their blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent or more, sleep problems are caused.

A growing body of research has shown that persons who drink excessively daily are more vulnerable to stress and sleeping at night. For both sexes, these results were true Youngsters and those in their mid-and late-twenties and beyond all tend to correlate.

Severe sleep disorders are associated with heavy alcohol consumption, according to studies. Drinking too much alcohol before going to sleep might rapidly cause people to acquire an alcohol tolerance. When someone has been diagnosed with alcoholism, they are more likely to suffer from sleeplessness.

Insomnia & Alcohol Statistics

Between 35 and 70% of people who drink alcohol report sleep issues that clinically indicate insomnia.
Alcohol is used by 30 % of people with anxiety disorders to assist them in falling asleep, with 66 percent wrongly believing that it genuinely aids in sleep.

A person with an alcohol use problem may need up to two years to overcome sleep irregularities that influence overall sleep time.

In only six days, resistance to alcohol’s neurotoxic effects before sleep might arise.

Sleep Apnea & Alcohol

A common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, snorting, or gasping for air as you sleep. These respiratory pauses may also cause sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality. People with OSA, caused by obstructions at the throat, have a harder time inhaling at night than those with central sleep apnea (CSA).

The sleeper may produce choking sounds while experiencing an apneic respiratory crisis, which may happen at any time during the nighttime. People who suffer from sleep apnea are also more likely to snore loudly and disturb others while they’re asleep.

Several investigations have shown that sleep apnea is linked to alcohol consumption because it relaxes the muscles in the throat, resulting in increased breathlessness. OSA symptoms may be exacerbated, resulting in airway disturbances and louder snoring.

Even if you haven’t been identified with sleep apnea, a single drink of alcohol preceding sleeping might cause OSA and severe coughing.

The link between alcohol and sleep apnea has been studied in considerable detail. According to a deep investigation, drinking alcohol raises the potential of sleep apnea by 25 percent.

What Is the Effect of Alcohol Withdrawal on Sleeping Patterns?

Insomnia and disrupted sleep are frequent withdrawal symptoms for persons addicted to alcohol. Insomnia is a common symptom of alcohol withdrawal, with effects suggesting from 36 to 72 %.

It becomes more difficult to fall asleep during detoxification and rehabilitation to get a good night’s sleep. There is also less deep sleep. Sleep issues might persist for extended periods when someone is trying to retrieve from long-term alcohol addiction.

How Long Before Bedtime Should Drinking Be Avoided?

If you’re an alcoholic, you should avoid drinking altogether but in general, for a more restful sleep, avoid drinking at least a few hours before bedtime.

If you’re struggling with alcoholism and it’s affecting your sleep and you find yourself too tired the next day, or having a drink to help you wake up, or like you just don’t feel like yourself, there is help available to help you every step of the way.

So, That’s How Alcohol Affects Sleep…

Are you looking for a way to unwind on the weekend? Well, you might want to give alcohol a miss. While alcohol might seem like the perfect partner when you’re looking for a fun night out with friends, in truth, alcohol can mess up your sleep. You may not realize it at the time, but it does. Start paying attention to how alcohol affects sleep, and maybe even keeping a little sleep diary, and you’ll start to notice some patterns.


Category: Articles
Martijn van Eijk
Martijn is a passionate creator and the driving force behind He created this website to assist individuals and their families in conquering alcohol addiction and finding a joyful, fulfilling life after alcohol. With a deep understanding of the challenges they face, he empowers readers with valuable insights and practical guidance on their journey towards recovery. Author of the Stop Shaking Book.