Having a drink (or two, or three...) is often touted as a cure for insomnia yet most insomniacs know that sleep through intoxication isn't really helpful. Besides the health implications, those who drink to sleep report poor sleep quality and grogginess the next day.
A study published in a well regarded journal (see source link below) found that alcohol can actually increase wakefulness - in other words, drinking alcohol could actually make your insomnia worse.
The study looked at 93 healthy adults with an average age of 24. In the experiment, participants consumed alcohol to the level of intoxication (this varied according to gender and weight) or a placebo between the hours of 8.30pm and 10pm. Their sleep was then measured between the hours of 11pm and 7am.
Researchers found that consuming alcohol increased wakefulness and reduced sleep efficiency and rapid eye movement during sleep. Sleep quality scores were also lower in the morning amongst those who consumed alcohol compared to those who took the placebo. That being said, alcohol did (perhaps unsurprisingly) make participants feel sleepier at bedtime (particularly amongst women). Interestingly, researchers found that sleep duration, efficiency and nighttime awakenings were more disrupted in women who consumed alcohol compared to men.
In conclusion then, alcohol may make you feel sleepier but it disrupts your sleep - particularly if you're female. Perhaps it's time people stopped turning to the bottle in the hopes of getting a good night's rest, then?
Last updated: January 19, 2012