Summer sleep : a fake friend

Sleep hygiene

Summer is a great time to celebrate. Long sunny days and mild temperatures well into the night encourage friends to stay up late. On the other hand, it’s important to be cautious before accepting a nightcap. Alcohol is responsible, among other things, for sleep disorders. The relationship between alcohol and fatigue is based on the specific characteristics of this substance. 

Alcohol, the sleep fake friend

All the studies carried out on alcohol consumption and sleep come to the same conclusion: after consuming alcohol, we fall asleep more quickly. This is equally true for people who have consumed a light dose (around 1 or 2 drinks), a moderate dose (2 to 4 drinks) or a heavy dose of alcohol (more than 4 drinks). More generally, the calming effect of alcohol continued throughout the night. Indeed, people who have consumed alcohol wake up less often and for shorter periods in the first few hours after falling asleep.
While alcohol can help you to relax and fall asleep, the fact remains that alcohol and sleep are not good bedfellows, as it leads to shortened, poor-quality sleep. It disrupts the sleep cycle, exacerbates certain sleep disorders and, in turn, has repercussions on wakefulness.

Alcohol and sleep disorders

Alcohol consumption can exacerbate certain sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea. People suffering from sleep apnea should considerably reduce their alcohol consumption, or even avoid it altogether. Alcohol can cause abnormal relaxation of the throat muscles, which in turn can lead to airway obstruction. Alcohol can also reduce the brain’s ability to wake up and detect a lack of oxygen in the body. This reduced capacity can lead to longer and more dangerous respiratory arrests.

The factors associated with insomnia are very varied, but alcohol is certainly one of the possible causes. In fact, alcohol consumption causes multiple awakenings, numerous phase changes and a reduction in the amount of REM sleep when several drinks have been consumed. Since insomniacs have difficulty getting back to sleep when they wake up during the night, it’s understandable that drinking alcohol, and thus stimulating the number of awakenings, is likely to stimulate insomnia problems.