Alcohol poses a misleading conundrum: it appears to make you drowsy, but it actually interferes with deep sleep, leaving you groggy and sleep-deprived the next day. New research indicates that alcohol causes more sleep problems for women than men, possibly as a result of differences in metabolism.
The study involved 93 young men and women who spent two nights in a sleep lab. One night they consumed nonalcoholic drinks and the other night they consumed alcohol until they were drunk. The researchers then monitored their sleep.
Alcohol was linked to more deep sleep early in the night but more wakefulness later in the night. Although women became drowsier than men after consuming alcohol, they slept more poorly. The women had fewer hours of sleep and woke more frequently and for longer periods of time than the men. The researchers speculated that this may be due to the different ways that men and women metabolize alcohol.
The bottom line? If you want a good night’s sleep, alcohol is not your friend. To sleep well, take a few simple precautions:
- Consume alcohol early in the evening.
- Consume at least one glass of water for each glass of alcohol.
- Consume alcohol with food.
- Stop drinking several hours before bedtime.
Arnedt JT, Rohsenow DJ, Almeida AB, et al. Sleep following alcohol intoxication in healthy, young adults: effects of sex and family history of alcoholism. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 2011;35(5):870-78.