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A ‘Nightcap’ can Lead to Poor Sleep Quality

Margaret Jack  By Margaret Jack   |   Posted in Sleep Research   |   Last updated: Wednesday 30th January 2013

It has been suggested that even a sip of alcohol is not as an effective sleep remedy as many people may think, as it can actually hinder sleep quality. This research was carried out by researchers from the Edinburgh and London Sleep Centres upon a healthy group of 500 individuals.

It was found from all doses volunteers were given (high, intermediate to low levels) indicated that nightcaps allow you to nod off quicker and into a deeper sleep for the first part of the night, compared to the latter half where participants experienced broken sleep and worsened snoring (even if you’re a non-snorer). The effects of nightcaps consist of not being able to enter deep sleep stages throughout the rest of the night which can cause the offset of lower REM (leads to poorer chance of having dreams due to shorter sleep cycles). This will leave you feeling less revitalised when you wake up. This is thought to overshadow the benefits our bodies gain in the first half the night including bone building, muscle building and repair tissue

It was identified from the study that participants who consumed higher proportions of alcohol before sleeping encountered the lowest REM. As REM accounts for 20-25% of our bedtime sleep, increased alcohol intake before bed can lead to a less rested sleep. This can have an adverse effect upon your motoring skills, concentration, focus and memory.

From this research and study it has been advised to avoid alcohol consumption in the leading two hours before sleeping. This will allow the artificial drowsy effects of alcohol to wear off to let you drift off into a more natural slumber and better sleep quality.

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