It doesn't pay to tempt sleep with a nightcap

Drinking usually disturbs sleep, and there is good reason to avoid drinking just before bed in particular.

Do you tend to have a relaxing drink, or even two, right after a rough day? And are then tempted to have a nightcap just before bed?

It's worth reconsidering, as alcohol affects sleep quality. Drinking usually disturbs sleep, and there is good reason to avoid drinking just before bed in particular.

Alcohol may help you doze off, but even a couple of drinks will affect sleep quality. If you find yourself pouring a slightly bigger glass, or if nightcaps start to become a habit, you may wake up next morning feeling as if you haven't slept a wink.

How does alcohol affect sleep quality?

Even a couple of drinks will disturb your normal sleep rhythms. The closer to bedtime you drink, the clearer the effect will be. Even the first phase of sleep can be disturbed. Likewise your deep sleep phase, which is when your body and mind recover.

As the alcohol is removed from your system as you sleep, you may feel restless and will be more likely to wake up during the night. Many people have noticed that, after drinking alcohol, they wake up only a few hours after dozing off.

Variations in sleep quality are a normal part of your nocturnal rhythm, but alcohol often messes up this rhythm and you can wake up feeling completely exhausted. You should also remember that alcohol is a liquid and, furthermore, a diuretic. This means you will have a greater need to urinate. The diuretic effect will make you chilly as well. Drinking also increases snoring.

Therefore, it's a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol just before going to bed. It takes about an hour for one alcoholic drink to leave your system, but this of course varies with, for example, weight and gender.