Anyone who’s been to a happy hour on a Friday night can attest to how much fun it can be. After all, who’s opposed to two-for-one specials, ’90s throwback jams and good company?
Unfortunately, those same partygoers can also testify to how difficult it is to wake up well rested after coming home buzzed at 3 a.m. Consuming alcohol is a surefire way to lower your sleep quality, and science backs it up.
According to several studies, drinking alcohol may help usher you into sleep quickly, but you’ll pay for it later.
Once your body begins to metabolize the alcohol in your system, it enters a confused state that can leave you feeling awake hours later without being refreshed.
One University of Missouri professor set out to discover the secret behind the lackluster sleep we get after drinking. Mahesh Thakkar, who is the director of research at the university’s school of medicine, crafted an experiment that involved observing the effects of alcohol on sleep in mice.
“[The mice] had a significant loss of sleep, which has [also] been observed in humans,” Thakkar explained to Popular Science. “When they drink alcohol, they sleep for about three or four hours. Then they wake up and can’t go to sleep.”
A single unit of alcohol (ex: glass of wine) less than 4 hours before bed can seriously disrupt/downgrade your sleep to the point of it being non-restorative!
And it can take 3-4 nights of high quality sleep to get back to baseline.
Don’t drink close to bedtime!
— Jonathan J. Marcus (@jmarpdx) January 3, 2020
Thakkar also found that binge-drinking resulted in a pretty drastic disruption of the mice’s sleep homeostasis. That chemical imbalance can throw your brain and body off and leave you struggling to stay awake the next day.
Adenosine, the waste product left over as a result of your body waking up and using energy, is affected by the consumption of alcohol. The study showed that cells cannot uptake adenosine due to the presence of alcohol.
I sleep much better when I don't drink alcohol but the downside to that is not drinking alcohol.
— 🌴Sardonic Tart🌴 (@SardonicTart) January 29, 2020
All of this can result in a drowsy afternoon where you’re dozing off on the couch. The best way to make sure you have a great night out and still manage to rest is to drink slowly and responsibly.
Cheers to trying, at least.