Although alcohol sometimes helps to induce sleep, it actually prevents you from getting a full night's rest.
Its effects last longer than you might think and drinking in the afternoon can interfere with your sleep that night.
Moderation and timing are keys to minimizing the sleep-robbing effects of alcohol.
Skip the Alcohol to Sleep Better
Up to 15% of people use alcohol to help them fall asleep, according to WebMD. While it's true that alcohol can help relax you so you drift off to sleep, it ultimately gets in the way of good night's rest by interrupting your normal sleep patterns.
As the alcohol you've consumed metabolizes into sugar, rising glucose levels can cause wakefulness, fragmenting your sleep. You may also find yourself awake due to extreme thirst since alcohol causes dehydration.
Yet another cause of interrupted sleep is a full bladder, thanks to alcohol's diuretic effects. With all of alcohol's negative effects on your body, it's easy to see why you're likely to find yourself awake a few hours after going to bed - if you've been drinking.
On average, it takes about one hour to metabolize one drink but the effects described above can linger much longer, depending on your weight, sex and health.
Even if plenty of time has passed since the afternoon "happy hour," chances are your sleep will be fragmented and you'll wake up frequently. The evidence suggests alcohol produces a relatively long-lasting change in the body's mechanism of sleep regulation, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Alcohol can also increase the symptoms of sleep apnea and snoring because it relaxes the upper airway breathing muscles. So not only does the person who had a few drinks lose sleep, so does his or her sleep partner!
The Morning After
Don't forget what it feels like the "morning after" you've indulged. Since you didn't get a good night's sleep and you're probably dehydrated as well, you can't expect to look or feel your best the next day. Needless to say, that can be an understatement, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed.
If alcohol consumption becomes a habit, its sleep inducing effect can decrease, while its disruptive effects can increase, according to the NIAAA. With regular drinking, sleep problems and daytime fatigue can become persistent.
The evidence is clear: even though many of us believe alcohol works like the sandman, it's really an enemy of sleep.
So, remember, for a really good snooze, you might want to skip the booze.