Tags: alcohol | hinders | sleep

Alcohol Interferes With Natural Ability to Sleep

By    |   Thursday, 11 Dec 2014 04:57 PM

Maybe it’s time to rethink the concept of a nightcap? New research from the University of Missouri School of Medicine has found that drinking alcohol actually interferes with the body's natural sleep-regulating mechanisms.

Alcohol is known to be a powerful sleep inducer, and studies show approximately 20 percent of Americans drinks alcohol to help fall asleep. But the new research, led by Mahesh Thakkar, finds that alcohol interferes with the brain’s built-in system for regulating a person’s need for sleep — so a nightcap actually does more harm than good in the long run.
 
“The prevailing thought was that alcohol promotes sleep by changing a person’s circadian rhythm — the body’s built-in 24-hour clock,” Thakkar said. “However, we discovered that alcohol actually promotes sleep by affecting a person’s sleep homeostasis — the brain’s built-in mechanism that regulates your sleepiness and wakefulness.”
 
The body’s natural sleep-wake cycle balances the need for shut-eye in relation to how long a person has been awake. If an individual loses sleep, the body produces adenosine, a naturally occurring sleep-regulating substance that increases a person’s need for sleep.
 
When a person goes to sleep early, that natural sleep-wake cycle is shifted and he or she may wake up in the middle of the night or early morning. The researchers found that alcohol alters that mechanism and puts pressure on an individual to sleep. When this happens, a person may experience disrupted sleep.
 
“Based on our results, it’s clear that alcohol should not be used as a sleep aid,” said Pradeep Sahota, M.D., chair of the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology and an author of the study. “Alcohol disrupts sleep and the quality of sleep is diminished. Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, which increases your need to go the bathroom and causes you to wake up earlier in the morning.”
 

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Drinking alcohol interferes with the body's natural sleep-regulating mechanisms, new research shows.
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2014-57-11
Thursday, 11 Dec 2014 04:57 PM
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