What alcohol does to your sleep
That drink at bedtime to help you fall asleep may end up doing you more harm than good. While a glass of wine or a late-night beer can make you sleepy, a study at the University of Missouri has found that, over time, drinking alcohol at bedtime can lead to insomnia because it disrupts the body's sleep regulator.
For the study, published in the journal Alcohol, the researchers, working with mice, found that alcohol raised the level of a chemical in the brain called adenosine. That chemical is what makes us feel sleepy. But because this disrupts the body's natural process for feeling tired after a certain period of being awake, it can cause a person to wake up before their body is ready and generally lead to a lower quality of sleep. .
Alcohol withdrawal after periods of binge drinking also was found to cause insomnia. Not surprisingly, binge drinking brings on sleep quickly, but the withdrawal from all of the alcohol consumption also can caused more frequent periods of wakefulness in the middle of the night.
It's been estimated that as many as 20 percent of Americans use alcohol as a sleep aid.
The researchers say they will now focus on other effects of alcohol consumption.