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Alcohol misuse – why late night drinking is a bad idea

They say that you should never go to bed on an argument. But is going to bed after having an alcoholic drink also a bad idea?

A hard habit to break

“I used to enjoy a glass of whiskey before going to bed each night,” explains David*. “It was something my father always did, and my grandfather. It certainly helped me relax and fall asleep quickly. I’m a bit of a thinker, and without some kind of relaxant before bedtime I’d probably still be lying awake at 4am.

“The problem was that drinking before sleeping often meant that I would wake up a couple of times through the night. The interrupted sleep resulted in me feeling exhausted the next day, which affected my performance at work and my mood at home.

“It was only after seeking advice from a private rehab clinic that I managed to knock the alcohol before bed routine on the head. It was hard at first, I must admit. But the benefits were enormous. Now I can’t even believe that I used to live like that.”

Sleep, the brain and circadian rhythms

“The lifestyle change I made was good for my health, as well as my pocket,” David continued. “Unexpectedly, my decision also led me to developing an interest physiological processes. Through researching the impact of alcohol on our circadian rhythms (our internal ‘body clocks’), I discovered a whole new area that increasingly fascinates me.”

The key point that people should realise is that, because alcohol is a depressant, it can help you to get to sleep, but its sleep-inducing effect reverses itself cyclically through the night, meaning you’ll  wake up at intervals, leaving your body and brain deprived of valuable rest.

If you absolutely must have something to drink before going to sleep, try warm skimmed milk. It’s soothing, sugar-free, additive-free, and its high calcium content means it’s good for your bones.

*All names have been changed.

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