Over 20 percent of Americans admit to relying on alcoholic drinks over actual sleeping aids to help themselves sleep. What most people don t realize, however, is that even moderate drinking can interfere with your sleep cycle more than actually improving it.
Alcohol can affect sleep in all the wrong ways. It may feel like a sedative, but in reality, it is not.
While we understand that it might be unrealistic and unreasonable to cut out recreational alcohol consumption from your diet entirely, it is important to understand how the substance interacts with the body.
Alcohol can affect your circadian rhythms and internal clock
Your brain manages your circadian rhythm, or the internal cycle of processes that regulate your bodily functions. One important aspect of your circadian rhythm is your body s internal clock, which reminds you of when you need to sleep, wake up, and eat.
The circadian rhythms regulate nearly every aspect of your body, including your metabolism, immune system, sleep, sex drive, mood, cognitive functions, and so on. Alcohol can directly interrupt your circadian rhythms by confusing the brain s internal clock.
This interruption can lead to a cascade of conditions, snowballing to make the body less efficient and less healthy overall, especially in cases of excessive alcohol consumption.
It is a bad sedative
While the immediate sedative effects of alcohol might be tempting, the quality of your sleep may degrade within the same night. People can experience more restless and lighter sleep as the night progresses, leaving you feeling tired the following day.
Research has shown that nighttime consumption of alcohol can actually reduce the production of melatonin, the hormone involved in sleep, by over 20 percent, proving itself counter-productive as a sedative.
It is also common knowledge that everyone develops a higher tolerance for the effects of alcohol over time its sedative effects included. This means having to consume more and more each time you need it to sleep, which can be habit-forming.
However, it doesn t stop there. Alcohol also makes you more susceptible to a number of possibly dangerous and debilitating sleep disorders, like parasomnias including sleepwalking and sleep eating. It can also trigger new sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea.
Its other effects on the body
Excessive alcohol consumption can degrade the inner lining of the stomach. While this can be mitigated by consuming oily food while drinking, it can cause ulcers and hyperacidity. Eventually, those can lead to holes in the stomach.
The liver is the organ responsible for filtering toxins and poisons in our bodily fluids. Alcohol is one of the toxins that the liver has to absorb. The more alcohol the liver absorbs, the less functional it can be and the more time it will need to recover. A malfunctioning liver is more likely to leave toxins and poisons in the bloodstream.
To put it into perspective: you can live without a stomach, but not without a liver.
While alcohol does have its risks, these can be mitigated by moderation. Limiting your alcohol consumption to a glass of red wine at dinner can even be good for the heart in the long run. Recreational drinking should be kept to one to two drinks per instance, and only done two to three times per week.
And as a sedative? Maybe just rely on a good mattress, better pillows, and actual sleep aids for that instead.
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