Alcohol Has a Dose-Related Effect on Parasympathetic Nerve Activity During Sleep
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Epub 16 Aug 2011-Sagawa Y, et al.
(Results will be published in the November 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research)
“Alcohol affects overall sleep architecture,” said Yohei Sagawa, a medical doctor in the department of neuropsychiatry at the Akita University School of Medicine.
“I believe that the approach used in this study is unique,” added Seiji Nishino, director of the Sleep & Circadian Neurobiology Laboratory at Stanford University School of Medicine. “Although there are several studies monitoring HRV during sleep, as far as I know there is no report describing the effects of alcohol on autonomic nervous system during sleep using this parameter.”
It’s sometimes not obvious why someone has problems sleeping.
One quite common factor is alcohol.
If someone has sleep issues and usually drinks alcohol in the evening…drinking less.. or none… can be helpful.
It’s possible for someone to have sleep issues that have nothing to do with alcohol.
However, if someone has sleep issues and drinks alcohol, drinking less almost always helps.
In this study the subjects were assessed through sleep with a measure known as ‘heart rate variability’.
This can give information on the activity of the autonomic nervous system.
The Autonomic nervous system influences everything from breathing and heart rate to the stress response and sleep.
The autonomic nervous system has two main parts: the ‘sympathetic’ and ‘parasympathetic’ nervous systems.
The sympathetic is activated when we are alert and stressed.
The parasympathetic is more dominant when we are relaxed and at rest.
Key Point: This study found that alcohol disrupts parasympathetic activity and more alcohol generally meant more disruption.
There is evidence that alcohol can disrupt our ability to get deep restorative sleep.
3 things that can help individuals drink less without sacrifice and deprivation
1. Do not start drinking when you’re thirsty
The thirstier we are the more we will tend to drink.
That seems obvious, but the less thirsty we are, the less alcohol we will tend to drink.
Make sure you are properly hydrated before you start drinking.
2. Do not start drinking when you’re hungry
Some people may crave alcohol if their blood sugar level drops below normal levels.
One common manifestation of this phenomenon is a tendency to drink a glass of wine, beer or short with mixer prior to food in the evening.
When individuals manage their appetite better–they may drink less without thinking.
3. Match each alcoholic drink with one of water
This usually leads to less alcohol being consumed and may dilute any negative effects the alcohol may have.
Side note: There are many hidden calories in Alcohol. People often can reduce 10, 20 or 30 pounds if they stop drinking, without many changes in their normal diet.