How alcohol consumption can lead to sleep disorders

Generally, the effects of alcohol consumption vary across users. Side effects, withdrawal symptoms and consequences of such action are seen to fluctuate, depending on a number of personal factors, including consumption levels, weight and tolerances.

This is also the case when considering the relationship between alcohol consumption and sleep. Many believe that alcohol, as a suppressant, will promote relaxation and peace for users, as it’s a substance that slows down the central nervous system.

As a result, a greater quality of rest is expected and attached to alcohol-induced sleep. While the case for some, others can in fact experience the opposite effects, where disruptive sleep encounters are found.

While a definite, unanimous impact is therefore difficult to highlight, it is however found that excessive levels of alcohol, circulating the body can affect the state of rest.

With that, it’s also seen how alcohol consumption can lead to sleep disorders for some, down to habitual, ongoing exposure of its effects. Insomnia and sleep apnoea is the most noted impacts of excessive alcohol consumption.

Yet, down to the metabolism process of alcohol exposure, personal tolerances, and further lifestyle factors, sleep disorders will not amount to every drinker. We must treat each experience independently, to fully understand the impacts of alcohol-induced sleep.

Here’s some insight into the sleep cycle, and how alcohol can deter quality sleep, along with motivating possible disorders, caused by consumption. If you’re worried about your consumption levels, and the impacts it’s having on your wellbeing, at Step One Recovery, we’re here for you.


The effects of alcohol consumption on sleep

Naturally, as humans, we experience an organic sleep cycle that makes up of 4 stages, starting with 3 of which are non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and ending with 1 rapid eye movement (REM) cycle.

Expected to be seen within each sleep experience, REM reflects the deeper sleep moments that we encounter, whereas NREM is the result of some activity, where we are partially awake or comfortably reaching the point of REM.

When alcohol is found in the system, the flow of sleep changes from such an organic form. Standing as a suppressant, alcohol can induce sleep at a quicker rate, meaning that NREM levels of sleep are usually reduced.

While some may believe that alcohol and REM sleep is a positive mix, as users enter a deeper state, it in fact causes an imbalance, deterring a full good night sleep.

Sleep is of quality when it’s spanned over the 4 stages, where a balance of both NREM and REM are encountered. This balance provides enough rest and enough deep sleep to result in quality.

However, alcohol is found to disrupt sleep, shorten the cycle and of course, result in exhaustion and tiredness if consistently found.

This is exactly how alcohol consumption can lead to sleep disorders, down to the disruption that it causes while aiming for comfortable sleep.


How alcohol consumption can lead to sleep disorders

Two of the most common sleep disorders which can be triggered by alcohol consumption are insomnia and sleep apnoea. Both can be triggered down to the disruption that alcohol causes to REM sleep, which results in an imbalance of optimal sleep cycles, causing individual symptoms of sleep disorders.

Insomnia is the inability to sleep, even when sleep is desired. Individuals can feel tired, yet insomnia impacts the strength and durability of sleep for the worst, which then begins a potentially vicious cycle of sleep disorder symptoms.

Those who do experience insomnia, down to alcohol consumption are found to encounter increased tiredness the next day, will look to consume further alcohol to induce sleep or will turn to further unhealthy coping strategies to motivate longer rest.

Pre-existing symptoms of insomnia and alcohol consumption are a negative pairing, down to the instability that alcohol can cause to existing struggles of sleep quality.

Alcohol consumption can lead to sleep disorders, such as insomnia, down to the fact that it disrupts NREM sleep, which then makes it difficult to fully immerse oneself into REM sleep.

Sleep Apnoea
Known to increase sleep apnoea by 25%, alcohol consumption can impact the quality and comfort of sleep for many individuals, resulting in symptoms of panic, abnormal breathing and excessive snoring.

This is down to the fact that alcohol naturally relaxes our muscles, which if experienced to the already weakened muscles in the throat, can motivate irregular or paused breathing.

How alcohol consumption can lead to sleep disorders is clearly displayed here, as excessive alcohol consumption, on an ongoing basis, can induce regular occurrences of sleep apnoea, which isn’t only worrying but also concerning for health.

Alcohol consumption for someone with pre-existing symptoms of sleep apnoea is therefore discouraged before bed, as its suppressing traits can speed up the relaxation process with instability in mind.

Alcohol is also found to increase the risk of sleep disorder, such as sleep apnoea, down to its organic impacts on the body and central nervous system.


Overcoming excessive alcohol consumption

If you’re consuming alcohol and finding it hard to sleep or experience quality rest, it’s important that you do look into your consumption levels.

Drinking too much alcohol before bed may be the trigger, personal tolerances may be lower than expected, or pre-existing sleep disorders may be festering either way.

However, if excessive alcohol consumption is causing symptoms of sleep disorders, it’s imperative that you consider withdrawal and management. Without such consideration, low quality sleep will reside, which can impact wellbeing, mental health, and behavioural habits.

To avoid the formation of an alcohol use problem, or the selection of alcohol as a coping strategy to motivate sleep, contacting our team at Step One Recovery will be encouraged. Here we can look at your consumption levels, and work to overcome such excessive measures, in order to achieve balance.

Knowing how alcohol consumption can lead to sleep disorders is very important, as a one-off experience of low-quality, alcohol-induced sleep will not be of concern. Yet a consistent experience can be exhausting, draining and very worrying.

Reach out to consider whether your symptoms of insomnia or sleep apnoea are linked to your alcohol consumption levels or habits.


Alcohol and Sleep