Sleep Disrupted

Alcohol abuse ruins sleep and promotes insomnia

(RxWiki News) Excessive amounts of alcohol are associated with tons of problems. It can even disrupt sleep patterns. There seems to be no end to the dangers that come with drinking too much alcohol.

You might think alcohol helps you sleep, but really researchers found that alcohol interferes with the restoring role sleep provides.

"Binge drinking could cause insomnia."

Researcher, Yohei Sagawa, a medical doctor in the department of neuropsychiatry at Akita University School of Medicine, and team found that alcohol throws off the normal sleep pattern by increasing heart rate and restraining the high-frequency component in sleep. The high frequency component indicates activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Usually the parasympathetic nervous system is dominant during sleep in humans, but alcohol stops that normal activity from happening so sleep quality and the restorative role from sleep is messed up, Sagawa explains.

The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for rest-and-digest, while the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for encouraging activities. When the parasympathetic nervous system is not working during normal sleep, insomnia can occur.

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep or not feeling rested from sleep for at least a month.

This study only measured short term effects from one single drink, but many people drink more than one drink so more consequences will result, Sagawa warns.

The study included ten healthy male college students with an average age of 21.6. They were asked to drink different amounts of alcohol 100 minutes before going to bed at three week intervals. A Holter electrocardiogram, polysomnography, and power spectral analysis was used to measure heart rate variability and the low and high frequency components during sleep.

The research will be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research in November 2011.

Review Date: 
August 17, 2011