Scientists give new insight into a molecular target of alcohol

A full understanding of the correlation between alcohol use and insomnia may provide a valuable and effective tool for assessing whether work performance is impaired. In addition, according to the AUDIT-C criteria, we identified 66 workers (33.7%; AS 5.0, CI 4.789–5.302) with harmful consumption in the NW group and 25 (12.8%; AS 4.40, CI 4.009–4.871) in DW group. We also found 15 NWs (7.7%; AS 5.7, CI 5.244–6.233) and 4 DWs (2%; AS 5.5, CI 2.453–8.547) tended to consume greater amounts of alcohol per occasion (Figure 3) (Table 2). Your daily habits and environment can significantly impact the quality of your sleep.

  • Participants were considered to be chronically hazardous drinkers if they were AUDIT-C positive on three of more data collection phases (in the retrospective alcohol life-course grid).
  • This is because it depresses the central nervous system and enhances the effects of the GABA neurotransmitter, which slows brain activity.
  • Beyond the neurological realm, alcohol also alters behaviour, potentially leading to poor sleep hygiene.
  • Individuals with mental health conditions are also more likely to develop insomnia.
  • Among substances of abuse, alcohol seems to play a crucial role in the genesis of these disorders [85,86].

Alcohol can worsen sleep apnea, a condition where a person’s breathing stops and regularly starts while they sleep. Researchers believe the link between insomnia and alcohol consumption to be bidirectional, meaning that each contributes to the other. Alcohol can lead to fragmented sleep and waking up during the night, as it disrupts the sleep cycle. An older study concluded that alcohol might reduce sleep in the first half of sleep and increase disruption in the second half. As alcohol enhances the GABA’s function, it causes a slowing of brain activity, which can make a person feel sleepy and tired. The substance causes sleepiness by increasing the functioning of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter.

1 Neurochemistry of acute alcohol effects

We receive a commission if you begin treatment with a fee-paying provider. The healthiest way of managing insomnia is by creating a bedtime routine that helps you relax and unwind. Alcohol also disrupts NREM and REM sleep stages in the sleep cycle making disrupted sleep more likely. Whether alcohol use is moderate or severe, people can access excellent treatment at private rehab clinics to receive treatment for both alcohol use and insomnia. At a private clinic, you’ll begin a treatment programme with the 7-10 day detox.

The Link Between Alcohol and Insomnia

This peak may be blunted or delayed in those with AD (Kuhlwein et al., 2003). Consequently, AD subjects may be more likely to manifest a delayed phase type disorder, which may present as difficulty falling asleep. Some studies have reported a mild withdrawal syndrome persisting after the cessation of an acute withdrawal phase. This condition may be secondary to a hyperexcitable state of the central nervous system (Begleiter and Porjesz, 1979) and has been called protracted abstinence, protracted withdrawal phase, or late withdrawal symptoms (Heilig et al., 2010). Its main features include, mood disturbance, alcohol craving and sleep related disturbances, and they may persist for about 5 weeks (Alling et al., 1982).

Why Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?

Differences in slow frequency between alcoholics and
controls were also more marked over the frontal scalp with alcoholics showing lower delta
EEG power (Figure 3). This topographic pattern is
consistent with the known frontal susceptibility to alcoholism-related alterations in
brain structure and function (Zahr et al. 2013;
Oscar-Berman et al. 2013). Sleep onset occurs when there are increased homeostatic (sleep-promoting) and decreased circadian (wake-promoting) drives (Borbely, 1982).

  • And while moderate drinking may reduce the risk of diabetes for women, higher levels of drinking increase those risks for both men and women, according to a Swedish study in Diabetic Medicine.
  • The three individual insomnia items (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and early morning awakening) were recoded into dichotomous variables (presence/absence of each symptom).
  • Although increased SOL reached normal levels by 5–9 months into recovery, sleep fragmentation persisted for 21 months and consequently TST was seen to normalize in ≤ 2 years (Adamson and Burdick, 1973, Williams and Rundell, 1981, Drummond et al., 1998).
  • Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects many individuals worldwide.
  • Drinking alcohol before bed can increase the suppression of REM sleep during the first two cycles.

Drinking alcohol in moderation is generally considered safe but every individual reacts differently to alcohol. As a result, alcohol’s impact on sleep largely depends on the individual. If you think you may have a sleep problem or disorder, consider taking our brief sleep quiz to find out. Remember that only a healthcare does alcohol cause insomnia professional or sleep specialist can diagnose a sleep condition. Alcohol has been shown to negatively impact sleep, but this comes down to the individual. Many of us find ourselves tossing and turning at night, trying to get that elusive 7 to 8 hours of sleep experts say we need but never finding it.


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