A cheeky nightcap or two may help you drift off quicker, but are likely to negatively affect the quality of your sleep later in the night and aggravate snoring, new research reveals.
Published in the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research journal, a review of numerous studies shows that alcohol influences people's sleeping patterns by increasing the length of the non-REM or “deep sleep” phase but decreasing the amount of time spent in REM sleep.
The normal sleep cycle takes 90 minutes, starting with the non-REM phase. REM sleep is particularly important for concentration, memory and motor skills, whilst “deep sleep” is necessary for the body to repair itself and for boosting the immune system. Drinking can upset this balance, resulting in people sleeping heavily during the first half of the night but waking during the second half.
Jonathan Attwood of bed and bath retailer, The Duvet and Pillow Warehouse (DAPW) comments: “People often suggest drinking some alcohol before bedtime as a sleep aid. In light of these findings, we recommend considering the potential causes of your insomnia and trying to eliminate these rather than superficially treating the symptoms.”
The studies indicate that longer periods of non-REM sleep could also increase symptoms for sleep apnea sufferers and sleep walkers.
Attwood continues: “The problems might lie in your sleep environment. Think about the temperature of the room, the quality of your mattress and bedding, and external factors like noise. If possible, ban technology and pets from your bedroom. Lifestyle choices can also make a huge difference. For example, it's really worth trying to set a regular bedtime.”
“If this doesn't help, there are alternatives to alcohol that can ensure a better night's sleep, such as relaxation techniques and herbal remedies.”
Research was carried out on more than 500 people who drank varied amounts of alcohol before being tucked into bed for a series of tests.
DAPW offer a range of products for the bedroom, including the goose down duvet and memory foam pillow. The retailer trades exclusively online.
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