It comes as no surprise that although plenty of people use alcohol to relax and unwind at the end of the day, it’s no friend to your sleep. In fact this Japanese study showed that alcohol may help you relax enough to fall asleep but actually gets in the way of staying asleep.
In this study healthy young men were given three different strengths of alcoholic drink once each in a period of three weeks. One drink had no alcohol in it, one had 0.5 grams and the last had 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. The men in this study had their drinks almost 2 hours before they went to sleep.
In the study they measured heart rate variability, so the evenness of the men’s heart rates as an indicator of their sleep quality. Both alcohol groups, but most strongly in the high alcohol group, the men showed much higher than normal heart rate variability. This means their sleep was more restless and more disturbed than the men who didn’t have alcohol before sleep.
The bottom line is that sleep and alcohol don’t mix well. If you’re looking for something to help you fall asleep I’d highly recommend melatonin, which is your own natural sleep hormone. Melatonin is dose dependent so you may need more than one tablet (usually 3mg) in order to fall asleep easily. Also practice good sleep hygiene and really taking care of your sleep environment will help.
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