Does Alcohol Affect Your Quality Of Sleep?

A glass of red wine after a long day is probably what most us look forward to. Furthermore, a glass of red wine has been linked to promote health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health as well as helping to control blood sugar which is
great for diabetics. However, recent studies suggest that an extra glass of alcohol could affect your quality of sleep, and poor sleep quality can be extremely detrimental for both your general health and well-being.

The study on Alcohol

Researchers at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland found a correlation between consumption of alcohol and a lower quality of sleep. As sleep needs vary from person to person, it’s important to examine the connection between what a
person does and their quality of sleep. The study examined data from over 4000 men and women between 18 and 65, looking at their sleep during the first three hours. They examined the sleep HRV (heart-rate variability) recordings from at least two nights – one with alcohol consumption and one without. The HRV measurements allow for the researches to examine the quality of the participants’ restful state. Essentially, the HRV is a measure of relaxation.

The general recommendation for consuming alcohol is a drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. For the purpose of the study, alcohol consumption was was broken down into low, moderate and high. These categories were
calculated based on the participants’ body weight. Generally, a low consumption of alcohol could equate to 1-2 drinks while moderate would equate to 2-6 leaving high to equate to more than 6 drinks respectively.

The results

The study revealed that the consumption of alcohol does reduce the quality of sleep, with even low levels of alcohol intake harming sleep quality. Specifically, high alcohol intake reduced the quality of sleep by 39.2 %, moderate consumption lowered it by 24 % and a low alcohol intake it by 9.3 %. Furthermore, these harmful effects are not just limited to an older group of people with study co-author Tero Myllymäki stating that, “The evidence shows that despite being young and active, you’re still susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol on recovery when you are asleep.”

Alcohol raises your heart rate and by doing so, it weakens your heart rate variability which then impacts your quality of sleep.

The verdict

Lack of sleep can affect your overall health making you prone to issues such as:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure and
  • diabetes

This why it’s important that you get both quality and quantity when it comes to your sleep. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of sleep, in terms of both quality and quantity,” says Tero Myllymäki, “While we may not always be able to add hours to our sleep time, with insight into how our behaviors influence the restorative quality of our sleep we can learn to sleep more efficiently. A small change, as long as it’s the right one, can have a big impact.”

You can read more about the study here

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