Many of us enjoy a glass, or two, of wine in the evening. You deserve it! But if you're having trouble sleeping, that nightly beverage, may be what is keeping you up. While alcohol certainly seems like it relaxes and soothes us right off to bed, science has something different to say when it comes to quality of sleep.
During sleep, our nervous systems should be getting a break, so our bodies are revived and replenished of vital energy come morning. However, in a study published in the journal JMIR Mental Health, scientists concluded that even low to moderate consumption of alcohol disrupted the nervous system and had a negative effect on sleep quality.
The researchers collected heart rate data from 4,098 men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 on nights when they consumed alcohol and on nights when they did not. With heart rate devices that measured heart rate variability (HRV), or the time between heart beats, the researchers were able to determine the activity of participants' autonomic nervous systems, which governs the body's fight-or-flight and rest-and-digest response.
Their findings concluded that as little as one alcoholic beverage could impair sleep quality — and it didn’t make a difference if you were a man or a woman, or if you were a more active or sedentary person. Moderate intake of alcohol (based on standard guidelines determined by body weight and gender) was shown to reduce restorative sleep by up to 24 percent, and high consumption reduced quality sleep as much as 39 percent. Those are precious z’s you’re never going to get back!
So while it may seem like a good idea to unwind before bed with a glass of your favorite red, if you’re really tired and stressed and need to relax, think twice. These days, good sleep is hard enough to come by, so make yours count with some of these natural remedies for sleep instead.