Iowa Sleep Blog

Alcohol and Sleep

Monday, January 09, 2017

by Diedre (Dede) Benson, ARNP

Many people will have a “night cap” to help them fall asleep at night. It can help you fall asleep faster, but your sleep is more fragmented. You get less of the deeper stages of sleep that can worsen untreated sleep apnea and affect memory consolidation. Often times people consume the alcohol for the sedating effect. The problem with drinking to help fall asleep, is when the body has processed all the alcohol, the insomnia returns because of the lack of sedating effect of the alcohol on the brain.

Alcohol consumption can decreases respiratory drive. If you have untreated sleep apnea, the pauses in breathing can get longer and the oxygen levels can go even lower thus putting more stress on the heart and other organs.

Alcohol is also a diuretic; causing you to get up more frequently to go to the restroom. That night cap every night can lead to dependence where you feel you cannot get to sleep without it. A better replacement is a glass of warm milk or a mug of non-caffeinated herbal tea.

Ready to take that step for a better night's sleep? Take our sleep quiz or call us at (800) 226-6084 to schedule an appointment with a Board Certified sleep physician today.