Alcohol is part of the daily lives of many adults. An evening tipple is a popular choice to unwind, especially before bed. It can however, reverse the relaxing effect we want it to give us when it comes to bedtime. The average brit typically consumes around 18 units of alcohol per week. Experts on drinking, however, think 14 units per week causes serious damage to your sleep. Drinkaware estimates that this volume or higher will make you feel like you haven’t had any sleep at all.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a drink at the end of the day. It is all about knowing your limits. This can be done when you understand the relationship between alcohol and sleep. When you know this, you can change your habits accordingly to have the drinks you enjoy without paying for it the next day.
How Does Alcohol Affect My Sleep?
The final, deepest stage of the sleep cycle is the Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) stage. This is the restorative stage that helps us recover from any physical ailments and restore our energy for the next day. Drinking over six units make it more difficult to get into the REM stage. As a result, you will still feel tired the next day, having not restored enough energy.
For those with bladder issues, drinking too much will result in frequently getting up to go to the toilet. Sleep is disrupted and your are likely not receiving the benefit of a fully completed sleep cycle.
How Do I Prevent These Negative Effects?
The most straightforward answer is to limit your weekly drink intake. The NHS doesn’t recommend more than 14 units per week for men or women. Of course, certain occasions may call for more units in a week. However, on a regular basis it is better to stick to 14.
It is important to not drink just before bedtime. Give your body time to process the alcohol in your system before going to sleep. It is estimated our body fully processes about one unit per hour.
If you’re drinking around the recommended units, perhaps it is better to spread them out throughout the week. A heavy weekend means that you’re probably not getting the good quality sleep you need at the weekend. Therefore you’re not catching up on any sleep you lost during the weekend. This is a bad start to the working week on Monday.
Rather than drinking all your units in a few days, you can treat yourself to a work night tipple if you can. Should your schedule allow (e.g, not having to drive), you will not feel like you’re missing out. It is probably better, however, to have a few days of the week where you’re not consuming any units.