Sure, that glass of pinot sounds like a good idea right before bed, especially when you typically have trouble transitioning to shuteye. But beware bedtime drinker: While that vino (or vodka, whatever your pleasure) may “take the edge off” and make you drowsy, and help you ease into sleep–it won’t keep you there.
Why Alcohol Sucks as a Sleep Aid
There’s lots of research and press on the topic, including this study published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, that found that while alcohol may initially improve sleep in nonalcoholic people, the effect of high alcohol doses can disrupt sleep cycles–primarily the second half of the nocturnal sleep period (you know, those deeper, juicier layers of sleep, without which you don’t feel as refreshed).
What’s worse: Tolerance goes up, so that you need more and more alcohol to produce the initial effects, which then only serves to further disrupt your sleep. You are much better off if you take into account how you sleep and your nighttime routine. If you’re a side sleeper then you should look for a good mattress for sleeping on the side. If you are on your phone or working on your laptop just before you go to sleep, that’s a habit that needs to be changed. If you need a colder room to sleep then get a fan that can help you doze off quicker. It’s little changes like these that will help you, not booze.
Alcohol, in short, is great at making you sleepy, especially when you want to be awake, and yet lousy at keeping you in the very stages of sleep you need so you don’t feel sleepy. That’s the worst ad for a sleep aid I’ve ever heard.
While experts say a little wine at dinner, etc, is probably fine if that’s your norm, using alcohol to get yourself to fall asleep is a slippery, sleepless slope.
What To Do Instead
The Mayo Clinic offers some very basic tips on sleep–and if you feel like you’ve heard it before, you’re right. So have I. But that’s because there’s a grain of truth to all the sleep wisdom: In order to get better sleep, you have to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, not eat or drink right before bed (not a ton, anyway), maintain a cool, dark room and make sure your bed is ultra-comfortable with the help of something like a memory foam mattress or other specially designed equipment.
Sounds like a no-duh. But how many blinking or bright LED lights are in your sleep space? (Think: phone, alarm clock, etc). Is there a streetlight peeking through your blinds? Shut them off, turn the clock away. Those tiny little beams of light really can affect (read: screw up) your ability to sleep because your brain and all the glands/hormones associated with creating the conditions for sleep are wired to respond to light. So, lights out. You might also want to make sure that you’re bed is comfortable for you, for example, you could try something like a full size mattress for better sleep.
You may also want to swap out your hot toddy for a hot bath or shower. Why? Because afterwards, your body temperature drops–and that drop signals to the body that it’s time to sleep. Don’t believe me? Ask Stanford University.
And then of course there are always natural methods to help you switch off and get a good night’s rest. Some people like to use CBD oil as part of their night time routine. If you’re someone who struggles with late night stress and worries then alternative medicines like the best cbd oil uk could offer a solution thanks to their calming properties.
My point is this: Give yourself a last call at least two hours before bedtime. And try the hot shower. It could be the best decision you make all day–or night.
P.S. One of the foremost experts on sleep, whom I interviewed on my show on Sirius XM, is Dr. Michael Breus, aka “The Sleep Doctor.” If you have trouble sleeping, check out his insomniablog.