Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg on February 21, 2012

Sources

Michael J. Breus, PhD, American Board of Sleep Medicine, Clinical Psychology, Clinical Sleep Disorders, Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine, Atlanta.

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Video Transcript

Narrator: Why can't I drink before bed if it makes me fall asleep faster?

Michael Breus, PhD: Well alcohol does a bunch of different things to you while you're sleeping. So while it may help you fall asleep, it will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep and remember, that's not the best sleep for you. It will also wake you up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. It will also dehydrate you, which can affect your sleep.

: glasses clanking, people talking

Michael Breus, PhD: So when you ingest alcohol before you go to bed and it makes you stay in the light stages one and two sleep, again, you're not getting that three and four sleep which is where we see the increase in growth hormone, where we see the cell repair, where we see the overall damage from the day repair. Nor, do you wake up and feel refreshed. So when you deprive somebody of stages three and four sleep and you wake them up, what they tell you is they feel like they've never slept. And that's that really fatigued, horrible feeling that people would feel in the morning. So, alcohol can cause that. Half the reason that people have a hangover is from the sleep deprivation. The other half of the reason is from dehydration. Now, I don't have a problem with having a glass or two or wine with dinner, but what I do have a problem with is people having 4 or 5 glasses of wine with dinner and then having sleep problems. So, if you're regularly taking alcohol to help you sleep, that's not a particularly effective methodology for helping you fall asleep, nor is it particularly good for you.