Healthy Sleeping Habits

Alcohol and Sleep Problems Don’t Have to Mix if You Do These 3 Things

Kara Jillian Brown

Photo: Getty Images / staticnak1983
Science shows that alcohol and sleep problems go hand in hand. Issues like insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and alterations to your sleep cycle can all be linked to having a drink at the end of the day to wind down. “Even if it helps you fall asleep, it does not help you stay asleep,” says sleep doctor Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi, MD, PhD.  “You’ll usually wake up a little earlier or have more tossing and turning after about an hour or two of sleep. Your sleep then tends to be quite fragmented.”

But there are three things you can do to consume alcohol and still get a good night’s sleep, according to Dr. Oyegbile-Chidi.

1. Limit your consumption

One of the most important steps is to reduce how much alcohol you drink in a given timeframe. “Have a glass of wine, maybe two,” says Dr. Oyegbile-Chidi. But cap it at that if you want to still catch quality zzz’s. “We tend to recommend much lower amounts of alcohol in women because of how they metabolize alcohol compared to men,” she says.

As a general guideline, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that low-risk drinking for women means having no more than three drinks on any single day or seven drinks per week. For men, it’s four drinks on any single day or 14 drinks per week.

2. Finish drinking three to four hours before bedtime

That break between drinking and going to sleep is enough to allow the alcohol to work its way through your system, according to Dr. Oyegbile-Chidi. This means less of a chance of waking up in the middle of the night because your body is metabolizing that martini or glass of merlot. Cheers to that!

3. Drink lots of water

Because alcohol is a diuretic and dehydration can decrease your sleep quality, having some H2O afterward will help counterbalance those effects. “You can drink a couple of glasses of water to just make sure that you rehydrate and get some of that alcohol out before you go to bed,” says Dr. Oyegbile-Chidi.

In addition to drinking more water, consider eating hydrating foods like the ones in this video:

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