Wine Before Dinner Disturbs Sleep, Adds Kilos 

man drinkingI used to be wedded to my pre-dinner drink – a sip of chardonnay or sauvignon blanc while I cooked dinner, with perhaps a second to follow while I ate.

It seemed like a harmless reward at the end of the day, a nice way to unwind and just forget about the day’s petty irritations.  Never mind that it might add a few grams on the waistline, there was plenty of research to show having a wine now and then was good for my health – wasn’t there?

Then a friend went to Fiji for a month-long holiday with non-drinking friends and remarked she came back 7kg lighter simply from giving up her nightly tipple.

Do You Wake Feeling Exhausted?

At about the same time I noticed  I seemed to sleep through the night undisturbed when I had NOT had wine, when I’d developed an annoying pattern of waking at 2am and staying wide awake till 3 or 4am on other nights – meaning I woke at 7am feeling exhausted.

It got me thinking, but I didn’t put it all together until I Googled alcohol and sleep and found plenty of research which shows that while having that evening drink can hasten you getting to sleep – and yes I was also falling asleep over my book when I went to bed – it also disturbs sleep later in the night as its sedative effects wear off.

My ignorance about this sleep disturbing affect of alcohol is not unusual.  A British Government survey of 2000 drinkers published last month showed 58% did not realise regular drinking could disturb their sleep.

REM Deep Sleep Affected

The recommended daily intake for men is no more than four units a day – the equivalent of two pints of regular-strength beer, and for women no more than three units – the equivalent of a large, 250ml glass of wine.

Alcohol apparently disrupts the “REM” stage of sleep, which is thought necessary for a deep and effective slumber.

Studies show that a moderate dose of alcohol consumed as much as 6 hours before bedtime can increase wakefulness during the second half of sleep.

After drinking the body tends to fall straight into a deep sleep, and only enters the REM stage once the alcohol has been metabolised.

Permanent Sleep “Catch Up”

As the body wakes more easily from REM sleep, many drinkers find they stir early in the morning without feeling as if they have slept properly.

Sleep experts like Jessica Alexander from the UK Sleep Council say if you find yourself drinking above the recommended daily limits most days of the week, your body may be constantly trying to catch up and then it’s likely you’ll never feel fully alert or equipped to deal with the stresses and strains of daily life.”