Sleep Health

Why cutting down on alcohol could lead to better sleep

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Your New Year’s resolutions may be long forgotten, but mid-way through the year can be a great time to revisit your good intentions and check in on your progress.

And if your goal on January 1st was to improve your overall health and wellness, why not try giving up alcohol for a month? Not only could you discover an extensive list of benefits that range from improving your liver function to boosting your bank account, cutting down on alcohol could also have a resoundingly positive impact on your sleep health. Read on to find out how alcohol and sleep are linked and discover just how giving up the booze for a few weeks could benefit you.

Do good and feel good

Giving up your favourite tipple may seem like a big task, but there are many initiatives throughout the year that can help get you motivated. For example, most of us have heard of Dry July , which launched in Australia in 2008, and has since inspired almost 300,000 Australians to go dry for a full month raising over $70 million to help improve the comfort, care and wellbeing of those affected by cancer. The positive impact on our mental wellbeing when we do things to help others has long been recognised and raising money for a worthy cause whilst also doing something good for ourselves is a double whammy.

Along with the obvious outcome of millions of dollars being raised to fund projects at more than 80 cancer organisations across the country, there are also many incredible health benefits that come from abstaining from alcohol, from mental health to physical health, to financial health and sleep health.

Lose a few pounds...

Alcohol is filled with sugar and ‘empty calories’ and will not only strip your body of vital nutrients, it may also upset your metabolism. A couple of glasses of wine a night could add an additional 2,000 calories to your weekly intake, and before you know it, you’re struggling to get into your favourite jeans. Giving up the booze for just a few weeks could help you see a difference on the scales.

... And gain a few dollars

Plus, don’t forget the impact of alcohol on your wallet. According to statistics , the average Australian household spent $47 per week on alcohol in 2021, so giving up for just a month could have a real impact on your disposable income.1

Get clearer skin

Alcohol intake over a prolonged number of years can have an impact on your skin. From broken capillaries to dry skin due to dehydration, to reduced collagen levels, alcohol can lead to serious skin issues. However, you can start to reverse some of these effects after just a few weeks off the booze. You may notice an instant improvement to your skin’s hydration levels, and within a matter of weeks the redness often associated with alcohol use can start to lessen.

Better sleep

We may all have experienced the so-called sedative effects of a glass of wine or a couple of beers; in fact, we may often use alcohol as a way to relax each evening before going to bed. But did you know that alcohol use and poor sleep are very closely linked? In the first instance, alcohol can interfere with the sleep-wake cycle, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep.2

Alcohol consumption also affects the quality of the sleep that you get when you do drift off. It has a negative impact on the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which can in turn have a knock-on effect to how you feel and function the next day. In fact, even a low amount of alcohol (less than 2 drinks for males, and less than 1 drink for females) decreases sleep quality by 9.3%; moderate amounts of alcohol (approximately 2 drinks for males, and 1 drink for females) decrease sleep quality by 24% and high amounts of alcohol (over 2 drinks for males, and more than 1 drink for females) decrease sleep quality by 39.2%.3

So, if you’re thinking about taking inspiration from Dry July – or Sober October, Dry January and so on – and abstaining from alcohol for the short term, or you simply want to reduce your ongoing weekly alcohol consumption, you can always try alternatives to help you relax and drift off to a restful sleep. A caffeine-free herbal tea such as Sleepy Time Tea can help you relax and unwind without the need for alcohol. Or why not try taking a magnesium supplement close to bedtime such as Sleep Drops MgUlti , which supports deep restorative sleep.

Once you cut out - or cut back on - alcohol consumption, you should start to see an improvement in your sleep within a short time. And with the fast improvement in sleep health, you’ll also start to see all the other benefits associated with better sleep such as improved mood and memory, stress reduction and restored immunity.

Medical Disclaimer: If you’re a regular or heavy drinker, it can be dangerous to reduce or quit alcohol on your own. Your doctor can refer you to treatment such as detox, medication, and counselling to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

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Citations

1
Source:https://www.finder.com.au/australian-household-spending-statistics
2
Source: Perney P, Lehert P. Insomnia in alcohol-dependent patients: Prevalence, risk factors and acamprosate effect: an individual patient data meta-analysis. Alcohol. 2018;53(5):611-618. doi:10.1093/alcalc/agy013
3
Source:  Pietilä, J., Helander, E., Korhonen, I., Myllymäki, T., Kujala, U. M., & Lindholm, H. (2018). Acute Effect of Alcohol Intake on Cardiovascular Autonomic Regulation During the First Hours of Sleep in a Large Real-World Sample of Finnish Employees: Observational Study. JMIR mental health, 5(1), e23.
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