Connection Between Alcohol and Insomnia

The sleep EEG effects in those with long-term alcohol dependence are the
opposite to those following acute alcohol administration. One possible mechanism is
long-term alteration in responsiveness of GABA mechanisms. There is evidence of allosteric
modification of GABA receptors (Kang, Spigelman, and Olsen
1998; Follesa et al. 2006) and reduced
GABAA receptor function (Valenzuela and
Harris 1997; Mihic and Harris 1995) in
rodent models of alcohol dependence. Thus down regulation of brainstem GABAergic systems
following development of alcohol dependence would lead to diminished activity in REM-off
systems (see Figure 6) leading to an increased
propensity for REM. This hypothesis has not been directly tested, and it should be noted
that other factors may play a role in the increased REM seen in long-term abstinent
alcoholics. For example, administration of the tumor necrosis factor α
(TNF-α) antagonist etanercept led to normalization of REM sleep in 18 abstinent
alcoholics (Irwin et al. 2009).

  • If such a relationship does exist, it is essential to identify whether a particular insomnia symptom places an individual at a higher risk for craving and which of these two variables may be improved with currently available medications.
  • When you’re heading to bed after a long day, a few drinks can feel like the perfect way to get some shuteye.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs due to physical blockages in the back of the throat, while central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs because the brain cannot properly signal the muscles that control breathing.
  • Allowing this time between your last drink and sleep will give your body more time to metabolize the alcohol.
  • Although there’s no evidence that alcohol can cause narcolepsy (sleepwalking), it does disrupt REM sleep, which may make the onset of sleepwalking more likely.

Alcohol use can impact the quality of your sleep, and research confirms there’s a link between alcohol use and insomnia. They may turn to alcohol to reduce their anxiety symptoms, which also increases insomnia, exacerbating their anxious feelings. People with sleep apnea should consider avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption. A person can speak with a doctor to discuss the best way to treat and manage their condition.

3. Alcohol Consumption and Insomnia Disorder

In this section, we will explore the role of alcohol as both a sleep aid and a disruptor of sleep patterns. The major issue is that people may not feel the negative effects at first. They can try it a few times and think their sleeping does alcohol cause insomnia problems are cured. The solution seems simple; they have another beer, another glass of wine, another shot. The more they take, the more they feel they need, and soon, they’ve built a dependency on alcohol in order to feel relaxed.

This may help many fall asleep on occasion; however, the use of alcohol, even a single serving, will make it more difficult for someone to reach deep sleep, also known as REM sleep. Without deep sleep, our mind and body are unable to do what’s necessary to prepare for the next day. In terms of sleep problems, men were more likely to report sleeping less than 7 hours per night than women (63.7% men compared to 54.4% women). However, women were more likely to report trouble falling asleep (69.6% compared to 49.5% men) (Table 1). Over the thirty years follow up, women generally reported more chronic sleep problems than men (Table 2). More than half the women studied reported trouble falling asleep, waking tired, and/or waking several times a night.

Alcohol Dependence and its Relationship with Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders

But its effects can backfire as your body moves through its later sleep stages, making you feel tired and sleep-deprived in the long run. Addiction to alcohol and insomnia commonly co-exist, as many who have trouble falling asleep mistakenly turn to alcohol in order to help them get rest. Logistic regression analyses with the sleep variables as the outcome variable, and alcohol variables as the main exposure, were performed in Stata v15, adjusting for age. Models were carried out separately for the different alcohol measurements, and were stratified by men and women.

The Link Between Alcohol and Insomnia

Getting enough sleep is important for your mental and physical wellbeing. You might like to unwind in the evening with a few drinks at home, or with colleagues after work. Here I’ll explain how drinking alcohol can disturb your sleep and share my top tips to help you get a good night’s rest. Research shows there’s a clear relationship between alcohol use and insomnia. Despite the fact people often use alcohol to try and improve their lack of sleep; it actually results in reduced sleep and disturbed sleep.

Disrupted sleep cycle

Sleep efficiency is a simple index
of the proportion of the time in bed spent asleep and thus a polysomnographic marker of
general sleep quality. Drinking has been linked to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA). In a recently published meta-analytic review of 14 studies, alcohol consumption was shown to worsen breathing-related events in sleep, especially in those with a history of snoring and OSA [6•]. Moreover, alcohol prolonged the duration of respiratory events and lowered the minimum oxygen saturation levels, but it did not seem to influence the therapeutic positive airway pressure needed to control these disordered-breathing events during sleep. In summary, patients with breathing-related sleep disorders should avoid consuming alcohol, especially before bedtime.

The Link Between Alcohol and Insomnia