Alcohol and Sleep

by Sam Malone

On an average a healthy adult requires a minimum of 7 - 8 hours of sleep daily for sound functioning of the body and mind. Typically any human being will experience two main alternating states of sleep differentiated by the types of electrical activity in the brain. The first state is known as Slow wave sleep (SWS) and the second state is known as Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM).Consumption of alcohol 30 to 60 minutes before sleeping is known to hamper one's sleep patterns, duration of sleep and even sequence of sleep. Individuals consuming alcohol frequently are known to take more time to fall asleep, wake up frequently and also experience drastic reduction in the quality of sleep.

Alcohol is also linked to sleep apnea. This is because consumption of alcohol before sleeping tends to relax the throat muscles and negatively affect the brain’s breathing center by reducing the oxygen levels in the blood and even causing possible tissue damage. People who are not snorers tend to snore after consumption of alcohol just before sleeping. Many alcoholics who have cut back or stopped their alcohol intake also have their sleep patterns hampered and are known to commonly suffer from insomnia. People who experience sleep problems are often experienced by people may minimize their alcohol consumption. Alcoholics who may be in recovery programs have to remember that insomnia is a withdrawal symptom. Consumption of alcohol before sleeping is particularly dangerous for elderly people as it may make them disoriented and unsteady is if they try to walk during the night. This makes them more prone to injuries and falls. Extreme consumption of alcohol is also known to hamper the functioning of the calcium channels in the thalamus which is that part of the brain that deals with sleep. Alcohol directly affects the person central nervous system as its negatively affects the individual's sense of orientation and balance which in turn could leave the person feeling dizzy or nausea. Alcohol also brings about a loss of muscles control in the person thereby making simple bodily movements or even speech difficult. Cancer, Cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, heart diseases are some of the common long term diseases caused by continuous and excessive consumption of alcohol.

There has always been a direct connection between consumption of alcohol and sleep. Alcohol if consumed in moderate amounts may also aid sleep because of the "feel good" state of mind it puts the individual in. However if consumed excessively it will drastically affect one’s sleep patterns and overall health.

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