alcohol & insomnia

Do Night-Caps Work?

So what’s the scoop? Is alcohol a reasonable tool to help treat insomnia?

Unfortunately for insomnia sufferers, the best professional opinion says no. It is true that a drink or two can help us fall asleep initially, but invariably we pay for it later. After three hours of sleep, the alcohol in our system begins to dehydrate us, which in turn causes frequent awakenings and lighter, less restful sleep. Also, if we are borderline candidates for having sleep apnea—a dangerous condition where we experience difficulty breathing and maintaining oxygen levels during sleep—alcohol will exacerbate the condition. Because alcohol is a muscle relaxant, non-snorers will snore after drinking, while snorers can become apneic and stop breathing regularly throughout the night.

And then there’s always the hangover factor. Some people get hangovers after only one drink at night—while others rarely get them ever. If you do like to have a drink with dinner, you may want to take an aspirin with a tall glass of water before getting in bed. This way you’ll begin the process of rehydrating your body, while at the same time you’ll thin your blood to prevent that morning headache.

The rule of thumb—for better sleep—is to avoid. But in a world where sleep regularly is compromised—surely a second best strategy is to plan ahead!

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