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How Alcohol Impacts Your Mood & Sleep 

By MoodMe
Getting enough sleep is one of the most critical factors when it comes to our overall health and wellbeing. Sleep has a HUGE effect on your mood, as well as a myriad of our body’s most essential processes, from brain health, metabolism and immunity all the way to the chances of developing any number of chronic diseases. It is during the nighttime sleeping hours when our bodies have a chance to reset and repair themselves. When it comes to sleep, there are a variety of things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene, and one of them is to take it easy on the alcohol. 

Having a nightcap or a glass of wine in the evening is certainly common in our society, and while this nighttime imbibing might seem to help you fall asleep faster, it unfortunately doesn’t help you sleep better, as alcohol can have a powerful (read: negative) effect on the quality of your sleep, which by connection, will affect your mood the next day. Keep reading for all the details.

Alcohol and Sleep Quality

Alcohol impacts quite a few of the systems related to your sleep. For starters, alcohol disrupts the production of several hormones associated with quality sleep, like melatonin, the body’s main “sleep hormone,” and growth hormones, which are a critical factor in the nighttime repair and reset process. At the same time, drinking alcohol before bedtime can stimulate your body’s release of cortisol, the stress hormone. This combination of decreased sleep-inducing chemicals and extra stress hormones can lead to nightsweats, tossing and turning during the night, and even nightmares. Alcohol can also block REM sleep (the deep, restorative sleep you’re after to truly wake up refreshed), which then the next day leaves you feeling exhausted, moody, and having sugar and carb cravings. 

After a night of drinking you are more likely to wake up during the night, one- because the alcohol doesn’t allow you to fall deeply asleep, and two- since alcohol is a diuretic, you might be getting up more frequently in the night to head to the bathroom. Alcohol can even disrupt your internal circadian rhythm, throwing off your sleep and wake cycles and making it difficult to wake up the next morning with energy to conquer your day. When you aren’t getting enough quality sleep, it can throw off your entire next day. You might feel groggy or foggy, with poor memory skills, a lack of focus or concentration or find yourself extra irritable.

Tips for Better Sleep and Mood When Drinking

You don’t need to cut out alcohol completely, but if any of these above issues sound familiar, you might want to take steps to reduce your alcohol consumption. If you find yourself falling asleep quickly but unable to stay asleep or unable to get deep, restorative sleep after a few drinks, or if alcohol seems to be reducing the total number of hours you sleep each night or has you heading to the bathroom too often, there are a few things you can try. 

- Stay Hydrated. Space out your drinks with glasses of water and try to drink enough water during the days you know you might have a few drinks. Using the spacers will cut down on your total alcohol intake and it can keep your blood alcohol level down.

- Don’t Keep Drinking Until Bedtime. Try cutting off alcohol around 3-4 hours before you hit the sheets to give your body ample time to metabolize the alcohol.  

- Skip the Sugary Drinks and Mixers. Sugar and caffeine stimulate the body and can wreak havoc when combined with alcohol’s already detrimental effects on your sleep. 

On the whole, alcohol is not your friend when it comes to sleep quality, but some people are more affected by it than others. If you find you have trouble sleeping after a few drinks, try these tips as well as working to cut down on your overall alcohol consumption.

Now That's A Mood: Happy Sleep, Happy Mood

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Learn More >

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