Does Alcohol Make You Sleepy?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard that alcohol before bed can help you get to sleep faster. But is that true? What are the implications for your sleep quality and overall health?

This blog post will answer some of the most common questions about alcohol and sleep. We’ll also explore how drinking too much can lead to disrupted sleep and offer tips for improving your quality of slumber.

So whether you’re an occasional drinker or a heavy drinker, read on for insights into how alcohol can affect your sleep.

sliced orange fruit in clear drinking glass

Does Alcohol Help You Sleep?

Many people believe that alcohol can help them sleep. After all, alcohol is a sedative, and it can make you feel drowsy. But alcohol is a depressant and can disrupt your sleep patterns.

It may help you fall asleep initially, but it will prevent you from achieving deep, restful sleep. As a result, you may wake up feeling groggy and unrested.

The Effects of Alcohol on Sleep Quality

The effects of alcohol on sleep quality are well-documented. Alcohol consumption can lead to:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Lighter and less restful sleep
  • Increased wakefulness during the night and early morning hours
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Shorter sleep time

As a result, people who drink alcohol regularly may suffer fatigue and sleepiness during the day. This can lead to work or school performance problems. In extreme cases, it can even lead to accidents.

If you are concerned about the effects of alcohol on your sleep quality, talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist. They can help you develop a plan to cut back on your alcohol consumption and improve your sleep quality.

Risks Associated with Drinking Alcohol and Sleeping

It is essential to be aware of the potential sleep-related risks associated with alcohol consumption, such as:


Alcohol may initially act as a sedative, helping you fall asleep. Still, as your blood alcohol levels start to drop, you will become aroused, disrupting your sleep architecture and preventing you from getting a whole night of restful sleep.

Sleep Apnea

A study has linked alcohol to worsening sleep apnea. This is because alcohol is a depressant and sedative that slows down the brain and the central nervous system. When alcohol is consumed, it can cause sleep apnea by depressing the part of the brain that controls breathing.

Depressing the brain’s breathing centers leads to shallow breathing and periods of apnea (brief pauses in breathing). Sleep apnea is a severe condition that can be life-threatening.

Alcohol also relaxes the muscles in the throat, leading to snoring and airway obstruction.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Alcohol can cause Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) by weakening the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a muscle ring separating the esophagus from the stomach.

Usually, the LES closes tightly after food passes through it, but stomach contents can back up into the esophagus when it is weakened. This can cause heartburn and other GERD symptoms.

Alcohol also irritates the esophagus lining, which can worsen symptoms. 

How to Improve Sleep Quality Despite Drinking Alcohol

It’s no secret that alcohol can cause problems with sleep. It’s a common misconception that drinking alcohol aids sleep when it disrupts it.

So how can you improve your sleep quality despite drinking alcohol?

  • Limit alcohol before bed and avoid drinking within 2-3 hours of bedtime. This will give your body time to metabolize the alcohol and minimize its disruptive effects on sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Alcohol is a diuretic, so it can lead to dehydration, which can further disturb sleep.
  • Drink moderately. Heavy drinking will only make getting a good night’s rest more challenging.
  • Drink light-colored alcoholic beverages like white wine or vodka soda. These tend to have less of an effect on sleep than dark-colored beverages like red wine or whiskey.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Drinks like cocktails can be complicated in your sleep since they are high in sugar. 
  • Choose quality over quantity. A glass of red wine may be better for your sleep than a cheap beer. 

Final Thoughts

Drinking to sleep is a misconception. While alcohol can make you sleep fast, it only allows you to sleep for a short time – and sleep quality isn’t even excellent.

If you’re struggling with insomnia, alcohol is not the answer. Many other strategies can help you get restful sleep, such as relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications. Talk to your doctor about which option is right for you.

Krystal | Sunny Sweet Days
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