The truth about alcohol and sleep.

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If you’re one of the lucky number who’ve already returned to outdoor eating areas or been welcomed with open arms by your local landlords into their freshly cut pub gardens, you might have noticed your alcohol consumption creeping sneakily up and your levels of energy in the morning going down. Those hearty outdoor heaters and cosy nooks kept you there much later than you’d planned perhaps? Or maybe you’re one of the millions who’ve taken to relaxing with a large glass of red after a long day in the kitchen table office; a new WHF norm. Whatever the backdrop, UK statistics show that since the start of the pandemic, over a quarter of us have taken to drinking more alcohol than ever before* and this is heavily affecting the quality of your sleep.

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Does alcohol affect sleep?

The problem is, alcohol is still every bit as toxic as it was BC (Before Covid), and just as detrimental to our health, particularly when it comes to alcohol and sleep. Classed as a central nervous system depressant, alcohol affects sleep by slowing down brain activity and having a sedative effect that induces feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. Although often causing us to fall asleep more quickly, alcohol also puts us in a much deeper sleep, allowing us less time in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) state. REM sleep is where our bodies do most of their restorative activity so when alcohol enters your system, the body doesn’t get the repair it needs. That drink before bed also acts as a muscle relaxant, allowing the tissue in your throat, mouth and nose to slacken, therefore stopping the clear flow of air and increasing vibrations, causing you to snore.

Many of us will recognise the sensation of waking up with a gasp in the early hours, when our liver is working overtime to metabolize the alcohol. Indeed, sometimes it feels as though only five minutes has passed and you haven’t slept at all. These night time interruptions are also what contribute to the bleary eyes, lack of focus and overwhelming feeling of lethargy throughout the following day.

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Does alcohol help you sleep?

The answer to all this is rather dry; abstention is the complete solution but there are some effective ways to limit the damage alcohol does to your sleep.

1. Drinking earlier in the day means your body has more time to process the alcohol before you go to sleep. On average, it takes the body one hour to process each unit of alcohol consumed, so aim to finish your last unit at least four hours before bed.

2. If it’s a special occasion and you know you’re going to be in celebratory mode, keep it under six units in an evening, interspersed with glasses of water to prevent dehydration.

3. Eating vitamin B-rich foods like salmon, brings down inflammation, bananas restore potassium levels, ginger treats nausea and evidence shows that natural sugars in fruit, move the alcohol out of your system more quickly. All of them will improve your quality of sleep the following night.

4. The LYMA supplement contains a potent cocktail of health boosting ingredients that combat the negative after effects of drinking alcohol. Although not to be used as a ‘Get Out Of Hangover Free’ card, LYMA’s nine power powders get your body operating on an optimal level and acting as if it hadn’t just been pickled in toxins. Wellmune® reinforces the immune system, KSM-66® Ashwagandha neutralises anxiety (hello dreaded hangover paranoia), and patented saffron extract, Affron® creates a more restful sleep state. Perhaps most crucial of all is Cognizin®; a world-leading nootropic, proven to increase brain function and aid neural communication. A pure source of the natural cell nutrient, citicoline that’s vital to brain health, Cognizin® is just the brain food you need to return to top form, following the occasional alcohol indulgence.

Originally published May 28, 2021.
Written by Jess Lacey, Beauty and wellbeing Editor.

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