What Should I Know About Alcohol And How It Affects Sleep?

Dr. Reena Mehra answers the question: 'How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?'

— -- Question: What should I know about alcohol and how it affects sleep?

Answer: Sometimes individuals try to use alcohol to help them fall asleep, due to its sedative-like effects. And while it may help you fall asleep, it really can disrupt your sleep during the latter part of your sleep cycle. The reason for this is because as time progresses during sleep, the alcohol is metabolized, and so you lose the sedative benefit that it provides.

In addition, alcohol can really disrupt a stage of sleep called as REM sleep, and the predominance of REM sleep occurs during the latter part of the sleep cycle. Therefore, alcohol disrupts that latter part of the sleep cycle.

In addition, alcohol can reduce upper airway muscle tone, and cause snoring symptoms to become more pronounced. And also, if you're predisposed to having sleep apnea or have sleep apnea, then alcohol can potentially worsen this potentially serious sleep disorder.