Why do you struggle to keep your eyes open after a few glasses of wine? What is it about alcohol that makes you so tired? Why does alcohol make you sleepy?
Alcohol impacts your body in lots of ways, including making you sleepy (at first) and then waking you up in the night. Why is this?
Effects of alcohol at first: sleepy
When you begin drinking, alcohol typically starts off by making you feel sleepy and tired. This is because alcohol has a direct impact on the central nervous system and is known as a depressant. Once in the bloodstream, alcohol makes it way to the brain and can slow down neurons firing.
Normal reduction in neuronal firing can cause sleepiness, tiredness and relaxation, whereas too much reduction could cause a coma.
That’s why after a few drinks, you’ll probably begin feeling relaxed and sleepy. For those who have more of an alcohol dependence, or higher alcohol tolerance, they may require more drinks than normal to begin feeling sleepy.
Either way, it's pretty normal to get sleepy and relaxed when drinking alcohol.
Why does alcohol keep me awake?
While alcohol, at first, makes you feel relaxed or sleepy, it has a reverse effect later on in the night. If you have some drinks before bed, you might find that you’ll have trouble sleeping. While you might fall asleep without too much trouble, you tend to wake up a few hours later.
Alcohol raises the body’s level of a stress hormone, which stimulates the body (including increasing your heart rate). This can easily wake you up and cause you to have a poor level of sleep quality.
So while some people like to drink alcohol before bed to make them feel drowsy, they may actually have worse sleep in the long run.
After drinking a handful of pints with friends, you may find that you’ll wake up throughout the night to go to the bathroom. This can also make it hard to get a good night’s sleep!
If you drink alcohol, have a poor night sleep, and then drink alcohol again the following day, you can imagine that the problem is only compacted onto itself. This cycle can leave you feeling even more exhausted and drained.
In short: Although alcohol can cause you to fall asleep quickly, it can wake you up in the night just as easily.
Other ways alcohol impacts your sleep
In addition to waking you up in the night, alcohol can also disrupt your natural sleep cycle.
Some people like to have a “nightcap” or a drink before bed because they find it gets them into deep sleep quicker. While this might be true, there are more negative side effects later on.
As you continue to sleep in the deep sleep stage, you will spend more time in this stage and less time in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, which is much more restful. That’s why you might feel really tired the following day, even though you were asleep for enough time.
So yes, alcohol may have helped you fall asleep faster (and maybe even sleep through the night). However, you probably had less restful sleep than normal, causing you to need tired the next day.
In short: how does alcohol disrupt sleep?
- Makes you dehydrated
- Increases your heart rate when you're trying to sleep
- Causes you to go to the bathroom more at night, waking you up
- Increases a stress hormone that wakes you up and stimulates your body
- Relaxes certain muscles that can cause you to snore (or make sleep apnea worse)
- Limits the amount of REM sleep you receive in the night, making you feel less rested
- Continually using alcohol to help you fall asleep can lead to alcohol dependance, along with the associated health risks
How can I stop feeling tired after drinking alcohol?
A good way to feel awake and alert when drinking alcohol is to watch your consumption. A single glass of wine might not be enough to make you feel tired and lethargic, but multiple glasses might. If you drink within moderation, you may be able to limit the sleepiness you feel from alcohol.
Another way to stop sleepiness from alcohol is to increase your water consumption. Although drinking lots of water might interrupt your sleep, staying hydrated provides far more positive effects than negative. Since your body is constantly losing water (and drinking alcohol makes this worse) it’s important to stay hydrated when out at the bar. Alternating alcoholic drinks with water can help minimize how tired you feel while making sure you stay hydrated.
Keeping hydrated when drinking alcohol can also limit your hangover the next day, which is always a bonus.
Can Sunset help with improved sleep?
Sunset Alcohol Flush Support is designed to remove the toxic byproducts from alcohol in those with Asian Flush, or alcohol flush syndrome. However, these byproducts can impact sleep, too, just like alcohol consumption. It's hard to sleep when you feel terrible from such a negative reaction to alcohol.
Sunset will speed up the removal of alcohol and its byproducts from your system, making sleep better. Sunset also reduces all the additional uncomfortable symptoms from alcohol, like a stuffy nose, headaches and red flushing.