How does alcohol affect sleep?


Alcohol has several effects on sleep:

  • It fragments sleep and leads to more frequent awakenings throughout the night, making sleep less continuous and restorative 1.
  • Alcohol significantly blocks REM sleep, which is vital for cognitive functions, learning, memory, and emotional health 1.
  • While it can help some people fall asleep, the sleep you're getting is not high quality, often referred to as pseudosleep 2.
  • Even a single glass of wine with dinner can have measurable effects on diminishing REM sleep 1.
  • states that everything that increases serotonin or GABA, like alcohol and THC, will disrupt the sleep pattern, depth, and overall sequencing of sleep 3.

    Alcohol and Sleep

    Matt Walker explains how alcohol affects the quality of sleep. Alcohol fragments sleep, reduces REM sleep, and can lead to emotional sensitivity. Even a single glass of wine with dinner can disrupt sleep.

    Huberman Lab

    Dr. Matthew Walker: The Science & Practice of Perfecting Your Sleep | Huberman Lab Podcast #31
  • Alcohol is considered a toxin to cells, which is part of how it creates its effects and impacts sleep 4.

It is important to understand that while alcohol might seem to assist with falling asleep, the resulting sleep is fragmented and less conducive to recovery and cognitive function. For a better-quality sleep, it's advisable to refrain from alcohol, particularly close to bedtime.