What is Alcohol Doing to Your Sleep?

Jan 26, 21
What is Alcohol Doing to Your Sleep?

“Wanna come in for a nightcap?”

You know the phrase. While it’s probably not used as often as it once was, you know what it means,

“Wanna come in for a little drinky-drink that’ll make you sleepy before you head to bed?”

It turns out, that little drink or two before you hit the sack isn’t benefiting you as much as you thought. Alcohol may make you drowsy, but in the long run, alcohol and sleep don’t mix very well. In fact, the affects of alcohol on sleep are more negative than positive.

Drowsy to Bed, Early to Rise

Drinking alcohol before you go to sleep may help lower your body temperature to help you fall asleep faster (this is something your body naturally does before sleep), alcohol actually makes your body temperature rise after falling to sleep.

This is called the “rebound effect”. Once the alcohol leaves your body, your body temperature rebounds in the opposite direction, which isn’t something you want to happen if you want to sleep soundly.


So yeah, that whiskey before bed might knock you out, but then you might be up before the rooster crows at 2:00 AM, wondering why in the world you feel so exhausted.

Alcohol Throws Your Body’s Internal Clock Out of Whack

Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. While everyone’s is different at different times of their lives, it’s still a 24-hour cycle that is essential to optimal health. If you throw off your circadian rhythm, you’ll feel it - you’ll feel sleepy when it’s not time to sleep and you’ll feel wide awake while lying in your bed.

When you drink alcohol, you’re causing a disruption to your circadian rhythm. Your body gets confused and doesn’t know how to regulate itself. While this sounds like a crazy night on the town, it’s really just referring to drinking too late in the day, when your body would naturally be winding down, getting ready to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. When your circadian rhythm is out of whack, your body doesn’t do this at the right times, causing your whole sleep-wake cycle to go off-kilter.

Your off-track circadian rhythm messes with more than just your sleep, unfortunately.

  • Compromised Liver Function: When you throw your circadian rhythm off, your liver isn’t able to do its job properly. Your liver is your body’s natural filtering system. It metabolizes chemicals (ehem - alcohol), and food. And what rules when it’s supposed to do its work? You guessed it - your circadian rhythm. When that’s off, you’re compromising your liver’s functioning, causing possible liver toxicity and disease.
  • Interrupted Sleep-Wake Cycles: Because alcohol directly affects your body’s ability to regulate it’s natural tendancy to produce the right amount of melatonin and serotonin to help you fall asleep at the right times, your naturally sleep-wake cycles are going to be way off. Typically, when you are getting ready for bed, your body increases its production of melatonin, which makes you sleepy. But alcohol suppresses that production. Even if you pass out when you fall asleep, you won’t have enough melatonin in your system to help you sleep soundly, causing your sleep cycles to either be incomplete or way too short.
Woman wide awake in bed.


  • Weakened Gastrointestinal Tract: The lining of your gastrointestinal tract can be weakened when your circadian rhythm is disrupted. And when it’s weakened, it’s more susceptible to toxins, bacteria and food permeating its walls and entering your bloodstream. This is called “leaky gut syndrome”, and it’s not fun.

Other effects of alcohol on sleep and your circadian rhythm include:

  • Next-day sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Bad mood
  • Poor job or school performance

So What Happens to Sleep When You Drink Alcohol?

We’ve established that alcohol and sleep don’t really mix for your circadian rhythm, but why? What’s going on inside your body after you have that second glass of wine before you hit the hay?

Alcohol and Sleep: The First Half of Your Night

After you fall asleep, which may seem pretty easy after having a cocktail or two, yoru body gets to work metabolizing that alcohol. Studies reveal that people who drink alcohol before bed spend more time in deep sleep and less time in REM sleep. 

Hold up. Isn’t deep sleep good?

Of course! But your natural sleep cycles are designed for a reason. If you change up your length of time in each of the four sleep cycles, you’re messing a whole lot of stuff up. You need REM sleep for a reason. This is where your brain stores memories and where emotional processing takes place. If you short-change that, your memory is compromised, and you’re likely to feel more emotionally unstable - which could play a hand in anxiety and depression.

Alcohol and Sleep: The Second Half of Your Night

Here’s when the aforementioned “rebound effect” occurs. Once the alcohol’s original sedative effects wear off, you body moves from deep sleep to lighter sleep, which leads to waking up more often during the latter portion of the night. Even if you don’t remember waking up a lot, you’ll still experience interrupted sleep cycles and a poor sleep quality.


Unlike the first half of your alcohol-induced sleep, during the second half, you’ll spend more time in REM sleep. REM sleep is a lighter sleep, which means you’re more likely to wake up. Yeah, we know, didn’t we just say you want to get REM sleep? Here’s the thing though, you’re not in any stage of sleep for the proper amount of time when you drink alcohol.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep Without Alcohol

Well, that’s a loaded subject. Getting a good night’s sleep  may seem easy for some, while remaining elusive to others, but there are some sure-fire ways to help. (Keep in mind, we understand you may have actual sleep disorders where you might need to seek treatment from your doc. If you try all these and you can’t sleep, talk to your doctor.)

  1. Avoid screens late at night
  2. Try natural sleep aids
  3. Designate your bedroom for sleep and sex ONLY
  4. Make sure your room is an ideal temperature
  5. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time daily
  6. Limit caffeine
  7. Exercise regularly
  8. Try a weighted blanket

A what now?

A weighted blanket. Not just any weighted blanket, try one of ours. Not because we’re trying to sell you something, but because we believe in our product. Every one of Weighted Evolution’s blankets is made of high-quality non-toxic materials and constructed to ensure optimal comfort and sleep performance.

When you sleep under a Weighted Evolution blanket, you’ll experience the benefits of continual Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS), which helps your body produce the melatonin and serotonin, while simultaneously decreasing cortisol levels. In a nutshell, weighted blankets speed up the process of falling asleep and help you stay asleep longer.

So unlike that brandy before bed, weighted blankets help your circadian rhythm stay in check. No hangover, no fatigue. Just a good night’s sleep.

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