Sleep is essential for good health, both mental and physical. This does not mean naps or a few hours of sleep each night, but a full 7 to 9 hours of sleep that includes periods of deep sleep. This helps your mind process events, deal with challenges and stresses in your waking hours, and let your cells and organs continue to work efficiently.
Alcohol is a significant obstacle when it comes to sleep, however. Although it can often make you feel tired, drinking actually interrupts your sleep, which is a large part of the reason that alcohol abuse can often lead to a variety of mental health conditions.
How Alcohol Prevents Deep Sleep
Alcohol can disrupt your sleep in a number of ways. While you may be able to easily fall asleep after drinking, all of these factors will still keep you from getting a restful sleep:
- Dehydration – Alcohol will cause you to dehydrate if you are not simultaneously drinking enough water. This dehydration keeps you from sleeping comfortably, and can also cancel out a lot of the cell regeneration and other physical processes that should be happening while you are asleep.
- Dreams – For many people alcohol, causes unusual dreams that can wake you up during the night instead of letting you move into a deeper sleep.
- Vasodilation – This is the process by which your blood vessels expand, causing you to feel warmer. Not only can the extra heat be uncomfortable when you are trying to sleep, but it will deregulate your body temperature, which is important in determining your sleep and wake cycles. Your body is warmest when you wake up in the morning and cools down throughout the course of the day. If your body is warm at the end of the day, it does not signal it is time for rest.
Alcohol in moderation will likely not be enough to significantly interrupt your sleep and if you are only drinking on occasion, you should be able to catch up on sleep on later nights. But when you begin to drink excessively or find yourself developing a dependency on alcohol, the lack of sleep can be one of the significant long term health concerns. Not enough sleep is a leading cause of physical and mental challenges, in addition to the harmful effects of alcohol calories and the impact on your liver.
If you suspect your alcohol use has started to shift into the realm of addiction, Aware Behavioral Health can help with treatment for alcoholism in Dallas. We work with you to counteract your dependency on alcohol and overcome the negative health effects, including lack of sleep, related mental health conditions, and more. Learn about our alcohol addiction treatment when you contact Aware Behavioral Health.