Many people indulge in evenings filled with drinking, not understanding that they’re setting themselves up for a poor night of sleep later. About 20% of Americans intentionally turn to alcohol to make themselves drowsy without understanding the true impact of alcohol on sleep. Those who consistently lose sleep because of excessive drinking may need to consider an alcohol rehab Costa Mesa California for help getting healthy sleep again.
How does consuming alcohol affect your sleep?
If you often wake up the morning after drinking and feel like you’ve barely rested at all, you do not imagine it. Though alcohol is a depressant and may make you feel tired, the drawbacks of alcohol negatively affecting your sleep far outweigh the benefit of being able to fall asleep more quickly.
The following findings have been reported in studies examining nonalcoholics and people with alcohol abuse disorder. Even people who don’t consume alcohol excessively experience these adverse effects. But it’s important to note that regular heavy drinkers had even worse outcomes.
1. Alcohol can throw off your brain’s natural rhythms.
Alcohol increases both alpha and delta brain waves during sleep. While delta brain waves help solidify memories and absorb learned information, alpha waves usually don’t happen during sleep. Typically, alpha waves occur when you are resting quietly but still awake. This combination pattern can prevent your sleep from being as restful and restorative as it should be.
Alpha and delta waves aren’t the only brain functions that operate suboptimally after alcohol consumption. REM sleep, the sleep cycle that is believed to be the most restorative form of sleep, is often disrupted or blocked entirely when you have alcohol in your system.[1,2]
2. Alcohol disrupts the production of hormones and neurochemicals that affect sleep.
Alcohol causes your body to produce adenosine, the chemical responsible for the sleepy feeling when you drink. However, Adenosine is short-lived and tends to wear off partway through the night. After it wears off, you wake up and struggle to fall back asleep. Do this enough times, and your day-night cycle becomes completely thrown off.
In addition to adenosine, various pituitary hormones, GABA, and glutamate all play crucial roles in proper sleeping and waking cycles. Alcohol can interrupt the appropriate function of each of these chemicals and result in impaired and less-restorative sleep, drowsiness during the daytime, and reduced alertness.
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3. Alcohol can cause you to wake frequently during the night.
The waxing and waning of sleep chemicals aren’t the only things likely to pry you from your bed at all hours. Drinking large quantities of alcohol means more bathroom trips throughout the night, which can be just as disruptive to sleep as any of the above effects.
4. Alcohol may exacerbate sleep apnea.
If you’re already prone to snoring or you have full-blown sleep apnea, alcohol use could make your condition more dangerous. Even if you don’t already have these conditions, alcohol may cause you to develop them.
Because alcohol is a depressant, it suppresses your breathing rate. It also causes muscles all over your body to become more relaxed than normal. This includes the muscles that support your throat. When these muscles become too relaxed, air can become blocked, which results in snoring and gasping for breath.[1,3]
Sleep apnea on its own is considered by the Sleep Foundation to be a life-threatening condition. Combining the preexisting condition of sleep apnea with the effects of alcohol consumption leads to further impairment of breathing, increased snoring, and difficulty rousing while sedated. Therefore alcohol plus sleep apnea could be a recipe for serious health risks.
What does this mean practically, and how can alcohol rehab Costa Mesa help?
When your sleep cycle becomes this disrupted, daytime sleepiness begins to interfere with your everyday life. Some people may get their day and night cycles so mixed up that they feel they must continue to medicate with alcohol to fall asleep, which only exacerbates the problem. This is especially the case in people who have developed a tolerance to the sedative effects of alcohol.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism calls this negative cycle of requiring more and more alcohol to sleep and therefore getting poorer and poorer quality sleep a “gateway to excessive alcohol use.” 
How can joining an alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa help you get your healthy sleep patterns back?
Clear Life Recovery understands that it’s not easy to break the cycle alone. If you’ve struggled to quit alcohol or you struggle with alcohol abuse disorder, you don’t have to fight it alone.
We offer detox, medication, therapy, life skills counseling, and more in our comprehensive alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa, California. You can follow the individual recovery path that is right for your needs while receiving round-the-clock support and care.
Call us or use our online contact form to get started on breaking your addiction and healing your sleep.