Sleeping fully clothed, leaving the TV all night on and eating in bed… most of us would baulk at the idea of doing these things at bedtime, but they’re just some of the things that are common when we’re drunk, according to our latest sleep survey. We asked over 2,400 UK residents about their night-time routines when they’ve had a drink, and the findings revealed a ‘what not to do’ list of bedtime behaviour.
The top five responses were;
- Going to bed fully-clothed
- Forgetting to remove hair products/make up
- Eating in bed
- Falling asleep with the TV on
- Forgetting to remove jewellery
As for the effects of such bedtime blunders the morning after, a massive 72% of respondents admitted to regretting their behaviour and wishing they’d stuck to their normal sleep routines.
The Alcohol and Sleep Misconception
There’s a commonly-held opinion that alcohol is good for sleep, but the reality is in fact the opposite, as our survey results suggest. Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause tiredness, and indeed the onset of a rather sudden sleep – which is where the misconception arises from - but the quality and duration of alcohol-induced sleep is far from ideal, thanks to what it does to your body.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it makes you frequently need the toilet. This effect doesn’t stop when you’re asleep, and a full bladder is a sure-fire way to wake yourself up. Full bladders have no regard for sleep phases, and will interrupt even the deepest sleep. Breaking your sleep cycle unnaturally causes disruption, setting you back the start of your sleep phases and limiting any benefit that you get from a naturally completed cycle. Taking into account that we’re only in bed for a limited amount of time, around 8 hours, it can often just take one or two interruptions to jeopardise any rejuvenating potential from your entire night’s sleep.
Appetite and Digestion
Excessive consumption of alcohol of course dulls the mind, and somewhat inhibits our usual decision-making ability and common sense. Combined with the fact that it can increase appetite and you’ve got a recipe for late-night eating, and it’s unlikely to involve healthy or well-considered food choices. Eating in the hours before bedtime causes two sleep-harming issues; the body will be provided with energy from the food but won’t be engaging in the physical activity required to expend it, and; the process of digestion will be highly active when we’re trying to sleep. Both of these issues create a scenario where it’s difficult to sleep.
The Morning After
Most people, after excessive drinking the night before, are welcomed into the day with a hangover – a generally unwell feeling that can certainly spoil a morning. The fact that some 31% of respondents in our survey vowed to stay away from alcohol for life is testament to how unpleasant a hangover can be. One of the main reasons behind the suffering that accompanies a hangover is simply sleep deprivation. As well as causing a frequent need to go to the toilet during the night, another side-effect of the diuretic process of alcohol is dehydration, which is why a hangover is typically accompanied by an extremely dry mouth and strong thirst.
Sleep deprivation, however it occurs, isn’t good news for your body or mind. You’ll be sluggish, low on energy and irritable the following day – not to mention feeling sick and unwell if you’re hung-over. If you don’t manage to achieve a good routine with your food and drink choices, which is highly likely when your body is crying out for instant ‘hits’ of energy, then you risk jeopardising your sleep the next night, and falling into a cycle of poor sleep. When this is allowed to happen for days on end, you risk a catalogue of health issues.
Regularly drinking to excess, with the various ways in which it can harm your sleep, is a sure-fire way to get into a cycle of bad quality sleep that could be very difficult to get out of. Considering the other health impacts that heavy drinking can cause, you’re not only harming your body but you’re denying it of its natural rejuvenation process – regular good sleep – and that’s a dangerous route to take.