Alcohol And Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by abnormal breathing and temporary loss of breath during sleep. These lapses in breathing can in turn cause sleep disruptions and decrease sleep quality. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs due to physical blockages in the back of the throat, while central sleep apnea occurs because the brain cannot properly signal the muscles that control breathing.
During apnea-related breathing episodes which can occur throughout the night the sleeper may make choking noises. People with sleep apnea are also prone to loud, disruptive snoring. Some studies have suggested that alcohol contributes to sleep apnea because it causes the throat muscles to relax, which in turn creates more resistance during breathing. This can exacerbate OSA symptoms and lead to disruptive breathing episodes, as well as heavier snoring. Additionally, consuming just one serving of alcohol before bed can lead to OSA and heavy snoring even for people who have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
The relationship between sleep apnea and alcohol has been researched somewhat extensively. The general consensus based on various studies is that consuming alcohol increases the risk of sleep apnea by 25%.
When You Wake Up
Most experts advise keeping your coffee-drinking to the morning and avoiding caffeine close to bedtime. Caffeine works best when consumed 1-2 hours after waking, Rohrscheib emphasizes. Additional caffeine consumption throughout the day has diminishing returns and is more likely to affect your sleep than help you feel energized after a certain point in the day.
For early sleepers or those with an early chronotype, Rohrscheib recommends not grabbing that extra coffee mug past noon, or past 3 p.m. for people with a late chronotype .
Cant Sleep After Drinking Coke Or Pepsi Practical Tips To Get Things Back On Track And Prevent Cola Insomnia
If you cant sleep after drinking Coke or Pepsi, its no surprise since one 12 oz can contains up to 46 mg of caffeine. Cola can also reduce the amount of deep sleep you get.
To fall asleep more quickly, you can try relaxing music, gentle stretching, or other calming activities. To prevent cola insomnia, you should avoid sugary caffeinated beverages in the evening, adjust your bed room, and switch to soda substitutes.
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Other Health Tips For Good Sleep Hygiene And Energetic Mornings
As the FDA stresses, caffeine isnt a substitute for restful, restorative sleep. Taking extra time to wind down and sleep earlier could go a long way with having enough energy throughout the day. Hypnosis, for example, can help calm a buzzing mind. You can also try preparing for bed by using essential oils, or jotting down all your worries in a sleep diary before winding down.
In fact, Kahn also points out that you dont need caffeine to feel good, stay awake and have energy throughout the day. Caffeine can help you get a jump on the day, he says, but drinking it too late can cause you to not get enough sleep, and then need even more caffeine the next day, creating a vicious cycle.
Here are some additional tips when it comes to using caffeine:
- When making tea, try shortening the brew time to cut down on caffeine content.
- Drink decaf when you need a pick-me-up later in the day .
- If you are extra sensitive to caffeine, avoid it 8 to 10 hours before bedtime.
- Use a fitness tracker or a sleep app to track your sleep debt and analyze the best time to wake, sleep, and when to drink your coffee.
An alternative to a strong cup of coffee, especially if you work from home, is a power nap. Have less than 20 minutes? Try a cold shower, which may be more effective during a heat wave than hot black tea. Staying awake comes first and foremost from keeping your sleep debt low and staying in alignment with your circadian rhythm, says Kahn.
Why Does Alcohol Make You Sleepy
Alcohol can make you feel sleepy because it is a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol affects the brain by affecting neurotransmitters, including GABA . GABA is a neurotransmitter that dampens activity in the brain, directing the brain to slow down.
Alcohol also impacts other chemicals like adenosine, which prevents the brain from becoming stimulated. These processes produce a relaxed and tired sensation.
What Can Help Alcohol Insomnia
So if youre struggling to fall asleep once youve woken up in the middle of the night, there are certain things you can do to help you doze off.
1. Change your environmentFirstly, getting out of bed instead of lying there staring at the ceiling is a good start to change your environment.
2. Chamomile teaSipping on some chamomile tea could also help. This herbal remedy has been used traditionally to help with sleep and there are studies to back these claims up.
3. Avoid caffeinated mixersThere are also things to avoid if youre drinking alcohol like caffeinated mixers.
For example, a can of coca-cola can have as much as 50mg of caffeine which is half a cup of coffee.
If youre drinking whisky coke all night, that will add up to a lot of caffeine which will not help your sleep.
Cbti As A Solution To Alcohol
CBTi, as offered by Sleepstation, could help if youâre experiencing alcohol-induced insomnia.
CBTi is recommended as the best starting point for treating insomnia that has lasted more than four weeks . Unlike sleeping pills, CBTi helps you overcome the underlying causes of your sleep problems rather than just alleviating the symptoms. To find out more click here.
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Taper Down Your Fluid Intake
The usual health advice is that you should drink lots of water. This is actually good advice because your body needs to be properly hydrated to function optimally.
However, high fluid intake can increase the rate at which you urinate. When you need to get up frequently at night to urinate, going back to sleep can become difficult.
Therefore, you need to restrict your fluid intake at least 3 hours before going to bed. This means that you should drink more water earlier in the day and slowly reduce the volume of fluid you take as the day progresses.
Lastly, you should avoid substituting water with caffeinated drinks. When you take caffeinated drinks late at night, the diuretic effect of caffeine guarantees that you will need to wake up during the night to urinate.
Besides the fluid loss triggered by caffeine means that your body is not as hydrated by the drink as you believe.
What Time Of Day Is Best To Have Alcohol
The Sleep Doctor, Michael Breus, M.D., recommends only 2-3 alcoholic drinks per week, and not before bedtime. One cocktail after work, a beer in the afternoon, or a glass of wine with dinner will metabolize enough ahead of time not to interrupt, or to minimally interrupt, your sleep. For more recommendations on alcohol consumption, symptoms, and signs of alcoholism, visit our alcohol addiction resource.
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Stay Hydrated Without Frequent Urination At Night
A common challenge is knowing how to stay hydrated during sleep without having to frequently wake up at night to go to the bathroom. Several tips can help you avoid both dehydration and excess trips to the bathroom:
- Reduce fluid consumption in the hour or two before bed. While its fine to sip water, try not to take in large quantities of any beverage in the lead-up to bedtime.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine at night. Both of these can have a diuretic effect, making you need to pee during the night. In addition, alcohol and caffeine can interfere with your normal sleep cycle and sleep quality.
- Elevate your legs in the evening. Some nighttime urination happens because your body reabsorbs water from your legs once youre lying down. If you put your legs up a few hours before bed, you can allow this process to take place without causing sleep interruptions.
- Pee before you go to bed. Try to empty your bladder as part of your routine before bed so youre less likely to feel a strong need to urinate during the night.
In some cases, it may be unavoidable that youll have to wake up at least once in the night to pee. This is normal for many people and becomes more common with aging and some medical conditions or medications.
In this situation, its important to make it as easy as possible to get back to sleep after you return to bed. Some simple tips that can help with falling back asleep include:
Can Alcohol Cause Insomnia
As previously mentioned, alcohol can indeed both promote and hinder sleep. Research suggests that alcohols negative impact on sleep varies and is dose related. Indeed, a growing number of studies demonstrate an association between alcohol dependence and sleep-related disorders like insomnia. The prevalence of insomnia for those struggling with alcohol dependence is estimated to run between 36% and 91%, which is well above average.9 Research has also associated binge drinking with disrupted sleep. Specific brain cells in the forebrain promote a state of wakefulness. Alcohol appears to inhibit neurotransmitters that activate these brain cells. This can disturb the whole sleep-wake cycle, disrupting sleep and potentially predisposing a person to insomnia.10
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Lack Of Sleep Affects The Change Process
In making big life changes by cutting back or quitting alcohol, having trouble sleeping or feeling drowsy can leave us tired and irritable, weakening our resolve. After a few weeks, the majority of people report that their sleep does get better and they feel much more rested. The ability to enjoy a full nights sleep and return to a normal sleep pattern can be one of the first signs that you are settling into a more sober life.
Arianna Huffingtons book Thrive has a whole chapter on the importance of sleep, and how not getting enough reduces your emotional intelligence, self-regard, assertiveness, sense of independence, empathy, interpersonal relationships, positive thinking, and impulse control. I knew how alcohol affects sleep was important but I didnt realise it was that important.
As alcohol leaves your system, your body will change. Remember, you are recovering from using a mind-altering drug that has affected your body, maybe for many years. There will be side effects, and some of them may affect your sleep. Read more about these so called PAWS symptoms.
You need to give your body what it needs to recover. And sleep is one of the key restorative tonics you can give it!
Remedy #: Nutrient Repair
Ultimately, how to end alcohol withdrawal insomnia is the same question as how to end alcohol withdrawal itself. If you want to sleep better after quitting alcohol, a full program of nutrient repair should be high on your priority list.
Many alcoholics are deficient in B-vitamins, which can lead to various psychological disturbances including insomnia.
In particular, Vitamin B6 must be present in order for tryptophan to convert into serotonin, which itself is a precursor for melatonin.
Before proceeding, Ill briefly discuss four additional nutrients that are effective for insomnia.
- Lithium Orotate Compound containing 5mg of elemental lithium, a rare trace mineral that support the nervous system in similar ways as magnesium. It has helped many people, including myself, feel noticeably more mellow and sleep more easily.
- Niacinamide One of the forms of Vitamin B3 , can increase serotonin concentrations. It can be taken along with tryptophan to induce sleep and mood-boosting properties via the same pathway used by tryptophan and 5-HTP.
- Inositol A natural glucose isomer that regulates GABA and serotonin and enhances REM sleep. To be effective, this nutrient needs to be taken for at least a few weeks so that it can accumulate and begin working.
- Melatonin This sleep-signaling hormone may also have antioxidant properties. Melatonin is contained in Sleep Support, in which it works synergistically with other sleep-inducing compounds.
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How Does Alcohol Affect Your Sleep
Initially, a little alcohol before bed might seem helpful for insomnia. However, people can rapidly develop tolerance to the sedating effects of alcohol. A small study shows quite explicitly how quickly alcohol becomes ineffective when used repeatedly for sleep. In volunteers struggling with insomnia without a history of alcohol use, alcohol or placebo was given nightly before bed. Initially, smaller amounts of alcohol did increase total sleep time and deep sleep. However, these effects were quickly lost within a week. As the study continued, subjects who had been given alcohol before bed were inclined to increase alcohol consumption, up to almost the equivalent of 3 beers a night. The study clearly demonstrates how quickly tolerance develops for alcohol which puts a person at risk for developing alcohol use disorders.7
With higher doses, especially over long-term consumption, alcohol may have even worse effects on sleep.8 Higher doses of alcohol have been shown to disrupt sleep, particularly during the second half of the night.
Studies also show that alcohol may exacerbate sleep-disordered breathing such as snoring and even obstructive sleep apnea. Heavy drinkers appear to be at increased risk of exacerbating sleep apnea, and this combination can increase a persons risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death.
Insomnia After Quitting Alcohol
Stopping the use of alcohol because it is causing problems in your life takes courage and commitment. There are both psychological and physical hurdles to overcome when seeking sobriety.
Once your body has built up a physical dependence upon alcohol, called tolerance, and alcohol use stops, withdrawal symptoms will occur. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and frequently include insomnia and other sleep disruptions.
Other physical signs of withdrawal may include tremors, shakiness, nausea, vomiting, headache, sweating, heart palpitations, and more.
Psychological withdrawal symptoms often include anxiety, depression, and intense cravings. In cases of excessive, long-term alcohol use, more severe symptoms such as confusion, and convulsions may occur. Delirium tremens is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal and occur in a small percentage of individuals.
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What Are The Dangers
When it comes to insomnia and alcohol withdrawal, sleep disorder can be a huge danger for two reasons. Firstly, an inability to sleep is a danger to a persons health. A lack of sleep can have a severe effect on mental health, making moods inconsistent, inducing depression and worsening anxiety. It can also take a large physical toll on the body, as it struggles to recover from the other withdrawal symptoms, due to not getting a sufficient amount of rest.
Secondly, any sleep disorder is dangerous as it can deter a user from getting clean. Alcohol-induced insomnia will effect withdrawal so substantially that the user will question their ability to get clean and live without the drug. Because of these reasons, it is vital to get the support you need when going through alcoholic insomnia.
What Does A Normal Night Of Sleep Look Like
You probably remember from basic biology that humans have a sleep cycle that travels between REM and non-REM sleep. During non-REM sleep, youre in a lighter state of sleep. It might be easier to wake you during this time. Your brain waves start to slow down, your heartbeat and breathing slow, and your muscles relax.
REM sleep is the deep sleep, where we are difficult to wake. This is when most dreams occur. Our eyes move back and forth , and our heart rates, breathing and blood pressures become similar to levels we experience when we are awake. One big difference between normal REM and the wake state, however, is that our muscles are paralyzed, so we dont act out our dreams during sleep.1
The typical nights sleep is in four stages:
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Treatment For Alcohol And Insomnia
Treating a co-occurring disorder without treating someones alcohol dependency, and vice versa, can mean setting up a possible relapse before treatment has truly begun. Rarely is it the cravings of alcohol that drive those in recovery to relapse. It is, rather, the symptoms of withdrawal taking a physical and mental toll on the person quitting that pushes them back. Insomnia is a very treatable disorder and taking the time to treat it can mean the difference between recovery and relapse.
If you or a loved one are suffering from Insomnia that you believe is tied to an alcohol use disorder, then your problem is likely more severe than you realize. Contact a treatment provider today. They can answer your questions about finding treatment.
Alcohol Withdrawal And Insomnia
In addition to experiencing insomnia after drinking alcohol, stopping alcohol use after persistent heavy consumption can also cause chronic insomnia. There are several major sleep-related changes that occur when a person stops alcohol use:
- Increase in awakenings throughout the night
- Reduced length of deep sleep
- Reduced duration of restorative sleep
Alcohol withdrawal insomnia is so common that it is one of the diagnostic criteria for alcohol withdrawal. Insomnia from alcohol withdrawal is likely to persist through the initial period of abstinence. Insomnia after alcohol withdrawal may, in some cases, persist for months or years. Insomnia is one of the largest setback triggers for people in recovery from an alcohol use disorder.
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