Let’s talk about sleep…

Many of us are familiar with that dreadful sinking feeling at 2am after a hard night partying – my first reaction was always to look around the bedroom to see if my handbag had arrived home safely with me – amazingly it always had which proved that my “automatic pilot” facilities were impressive even when in blackout mode.  Once handbag had been located came the task of working out exactly what had happened once that “sweet spot” had been reached and the evening had descended into vagueness – not the greatest recipe for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Some quotes on the subject from a couple of our members:-

So good to get rid of the 2am wake up – the guilt and the shame”

I used to wake up between 3 and 4 in a very anxious state – and just not able to go back to sleep.  Since I kicked the booze I have been sleeping like a baby”

Much as we love our anecdotal evidence one of the ladies who attended our last workshop applied a scientific approach to this issue and kindly sent me three screenshots from her Fitbit.

Here they are:-

 

night before workshop after drinking wine - essentially passed out, very few restless times (light blue lines)
night before workshop after drinking wine – essentially passed out, very few restless times (light blue lines)

 

week after workshop, struggled to fall asleep - very restless
week after workshop, struggled to fall asleep – very restless

 

two weeks after workshop - no alcohol - earlier bedtimes - longer periods of no restlessness
two weeks after workshop – no alcohol – earlier bedtimes – longer periods of no restlessness

 

So how does alcohol actually affect our sleep patterns.  Well it may help us nod off (pass out?) but even just a couple of drinks can affect the quality of our sleep.  After drinking you will probably go straight into “deep sleep”, missing out on the important first stage of sleep, called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Deep sleep is when the body restores itself, and alcohol can interfere with this.  As the alcohol starts to wear off,  your body can come out of deep sleep and back into REM sleep which is much easier to wake from.  That’s why you often wake up after just a few hours sleep when you have been drinking.

In the course of a night you usually have six to seven cycles of REM sleep, which leaves you feeling refreshed.  However if you’ve been drinking you’ll typically have only one or two, meaning you can wake up feeling exhausted.

So that’s the official line on what alcohol does to your sleep and it’s not pretty – and that’s before we even start on those extra nocturnal trips to the loo and those nasty hangovers!

Heavy drinkers who give up usually need a lot of sleep – they should just enjoy it – maybe that’s why they call it “recovery”…

Send me your sleeping stories!

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