Alcohol has been found to interfere with the restorative functions of sleep.
Drinking before sleep disrupts the ‘rest and digest’ activities of sleep, says a study at Akita University School of Medicine.
“Although the first half of sleep after alcohol intake looks good on the EEG, the result of the assessment regarding the autonomic nerve system shows that drinking leads to insomnia rather than good sleep’ say the researchers.
The alcohol was found to suppress the parasympathetic nerve activity which is associated with insomnia, early morning awakening, lack of a sense of deep sleep and difficulty maintaining sleep.
“It is generally believed that having a nightcap may aid sleep, especially sleep initiation.
“This may be true for some people who have small amounts of alcohol intake.
“However, it should be noted that large amounts of alcohol intake interfere with sleep quality and the restorative role of sleep and these negative consequences may be much larger during chronic alcohol intake” says the study
It concludes that it is important for clinicians who are treating physical and psychological disorders related to alcohol to consider the disturbing effects on sleep’s restorative effects that habitual drinking can have.
The study is due to be published in the November edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.