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Who doesn’t know the nightcap? A glass of alcohol and sleeping suddenly succeeds a lot faster. But is that really the case? And does a night of partying or a single drink just before bed make any difference? Whether you are 18 or 80, male, female or something in between, the blood alcohol level at which you get the best night’s sleep is the same for everyone.
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Anyone who wants to fall asleep quickly has probably been advised to have a drink. And that works, alcohol makes you fall asleep faster. But the quality of that sleep is appallingly bad. You wake up early and sleep less deeply at all. So after such a night you are anything but well rested. This in turn leads to reduced concentration, being irritable and feeling tired. By the way, it doesn’t matter at all whether you’ve had one glass, or whether you’ve drunk yourself a cat.
Many people think that alcohol can help you sleep better, but that nightcap has a downside. A glass of alcohol before bed will prevent you from staring at the ceiling for hours, but you won’t have a good dream. REM sleep is the phase of your sleep in which you recover. You are dreaming and your muscles are relaxed. That is super important for your recovery. Alcohol ensures that you enter REM sleep later and that it lasts less. Not a suitable remedy for a good night’s sleep!
When you are addicted to alcohol, you are more likely to have trouble sleeping. This is because your body gets used to it and needs more and more of the addictive substance. Even with a nightcap, more and more is needed to fall asleep easily. Daily alcohol consumption can therefore keep you awake. You may also sleepwalk, snore, or talk in your sleep.
For the tips below, you should give it a few days to weeks. This also depends on how much your natural rhythm has been disrupted by the alcohol. In the beginning you may sleep more restlessly, but then only better.
Have a regular bedtime and don’t sleep during the day. Tire your body by exercising during the day. Take it easy at night by reading, doing relaxation exercises or taking a hot shower. Provide a pleasant sleeping environment. This consists of a cool, tidy bedroom with a mattress and pillow that provide good support for your body. If you do want to drink alcohol, stick to a maximum of two glasses and do this no later than four hours before you go to sleep, then it will not have a negative effect on your night’s sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions
Alcohol and sleep are close friends according to old folk wisdom. After all, you fall asleep a lot faster from a drink before going to bed than when you go to bed sober. However, that same drink also ensures that your REM sleep starts less quickly, and that it lasts less long. It is precisely this phase of your sleep that you need to recover properly. Alcohol before going to bed therefore ensures that you get up less rested.
No, the opposite is true. You go to sleep badly by consuming alcohol in the few hours before going to bed. The quantity does not matter here. Although you fall asleep a little faster, you sleep less deeply. As a result, you wake up less rested, you have difficulty concentrating and suffer from irritability.
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