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Should you booze and snooze? What affect does alcohol have on your sleep?

A good night’s sleep is vital for managing your mental health.

We’ve looked at how you can deal with sleep disorders and also the relationship between sleep deprivation and sickness absence.

But a recent article from Sleep Advisor caught our eye.

They’ve explored the relationship between alcohol and sleep, including the misconception that a nightcap before bedtime can help with your nightly routine.

Some recent surveys make this topic even more relevant.

According to Bupa Global, two in five business leaders in the UK have turned to alcohol or drugs to cope with mental ill health during the pandemic.

And a health and safety software firm found that, in 2020, nine out of 10 people have admitted to drinking alcohol while working from home.

Here’s a look at some of the main points the Sleep Advisor article raises about the affect alcohol can have on your sleep.

Does alcohol make you fall asleep faster?

Yes, alcohol does make you fall asleep faster.

However, rather than helping the sleeper, it changes brain activity, which results in a less restful night’s sleep.

And while people might experience a deeper sleep in the first half of the night, they’re likely to wake earlier and find it difficult to fall asleep again.

Other disruptions in sleep could include:

  • night sweats
  • snoring and sleep apnoea (when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep)
  • more trips to the bathroom, as your liver works overtime to rid the body of toxins

What affect does alcohol have on your sleep cycle?

Drinking before bed can interfere with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

REM sleep occurs several times during the night and is the stage of sleep when the eyes move rapidly under your eyelids. This is also when most dreams occur.

Drinking can cause dreams to feel more real. In fact, some people may even re-enact their dreams through sleep walking and talking.

This can also relate to nightmares as well as dreams

How to be more responsible when drinking before bed

You can decrease the affect of alcohol on your sleep in several ways. These include:

  • giving yourself a 3-hour window between your last drink and bedtime
  • limiting your drink intake to one a day if you are over 65
  • drinking two glasses of water for every one glass of alcohol consumed
  • cutting back on fizzy drinks, they can distend your stomach which allows more alcohol to be absorbed

How to improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep

You can also do a few things to improve the chances of having a better sleep. This could include:

  • drinking hot herbal tea before bed
  • taking a hot bath around 90 minutes before bed
  • reducing exposure to blue light, either by using a filter on computer and mobile screens or not using screens at all before bed

Supporting staff with alcohol and sleep problems

If you’d like to find out more, you can read Sleep Advisor’s full article; Does Alcohol Affect Sleep? What You Need to Know Before Bed.

If you’d like to find out how our occupational health services can help you to support employees with sleep disorders or issues with alcohol, contact the team at Fusion today.

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Categories: Drug & Alcohol TestingHealth & WellbeingMental HealthOccupational Health

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