‘Tis the season for festivities and plenty of celebration! For some of us, that means indulging in some holiday cocktails and consuming our favorite alcoholic beverages like mulled wine, spiked hot cocoa, and eggnog—to name just a few!
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two during the holidays. But don’t be surprised if your sleep schedule seems a little off after the alcohol.
So why is it that after a night of celebration you feel groggy and sluggish?
I fell asleep quickly, but I don’t feel rested?
Don’t let the alcohol fool you!
Just because you didn’t have to fight to fall asleep doesn’t mean your sleep will be restful and restorative. Drinking alcohol affects REM sleep, which is the deepest and most rejuvenating sleep stage.
So even if you clocked eight hours after a night of holiday boozing, it doesn’t mean your sleep was doing it’s job. Also, since alcohol is metabolized, your body will tend to go from deeper to lighter sleep after drinking. This means you will be more likely to wake before you are truly rested (or wake up more often during the night).
But I only had a few drinks?
Even when it’s not the holiday season, many of us are apt to have a glass of wine before bed. You may think your body is used to a nightcap or two, but during the holidays, that extra glass of eggnog might really impact your sleep routine.
Studies show that even one glass of alcohol can impair restorative sleep by 24%. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be allowed to indulge in a holiday drink, but maybe change the time you drink alcohol instead of piling on your nightly glass of wine.
According to research, “happy hour” isn’t just because it falls right after work hours. Early to middle evening has proven to be the best time to drink to avoid disruptions to circadian rhythms.
I’m dealing with other side effects, too.
It’s not just your sleep cycles that get interrupted when you drink alcohol before bed. You may experience other small changes to your sleep, and alcohol could very well be the culprit.
Alcohol relaxes your muscles, which in turn affects your breathing. Because of this, snoring (or louder-than-usual snoring) may occur. You might also need to get up to use the bathroom more often, and some people even find themselves sleepwalking or sleep eating because of excessive alcohol consumption.
If you are feeling tired after your holiday drinking, it’s tempting to sleep for days to catch up. But don’t overdo it! It might just have similar effects to the alcohol.