Alcohol And Sleep Don’t Mix

A nightcap before bed is a common nighttime ritual. Approximately 20% of the U.S adult population drinks alcohol to help them fall asleep. Alcohol may allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker however, it significantly reduces REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM happens about 90minutes after we fall asleep and it’s the most restorative stage of sleep.

How Alcohol Impacts Sleep

Alcohol impacts several body sleep functions:

  • Decreases melatonin – Inhibits the release of melatonin which is the body’s primary sleep signal
  • Reduces growth hormone – alcohol reduces growth hormone release which is crucial for your body’s nighttime repairs
  • Increases stress hormone – alcohol increases your body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases your resting heart rate and generally stimulates the body; making it more likely you’ll wake up during the night.
  • Disrupts circadian rhythm – Alcohol can impact your brain and liver’s internal clocks, causing your body to be misaligned with its natural sleep cycle.
  • Increases urination – Alcohol is a diuretic. It can disrupt sleep by more frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Aggravates breathing problems – Alcohol causes muscles to relax, including your throat. This relaxation makes for more snoring and worsens sleep-related breathing problems like sleep apnea.

  Helpful Tips To Regain Sleep

  • Hydrate – Water along with every drink helps the body flush out the alcohol
  • End Early – allow your body at least 3 hours before sleep to metabolize the alcohol from your system
  • Avoid Mixers – drinks with high sugar or caffeine in the mix are more likely to stimulate your body and internal clock when trying to settle.


If you or anyone you know is suffering from substance use, please call our admissions team to set up an appointment.