Alcohol for sleep not a good idea

Alcohol for sleep not a good idea
Highlights

A new study has revealed that alcohol affects the body\'s sleep homeostasis and can even cause insomnia over time.

Washington: A new study has revealed that alcohol affects the body's sleep homeostasis and can even cause insomnia over time.

Researchers from the University Of Missouri School Of Medicine have found that drinking alcohol to fall asleep interferes with sleep homeostasis, the body's sleep-regulating mechanism.
The researchers, led by Mahesh Thakkar, PhD, associate professor and director of research in the MU School of Medicine's Department of Neurology, who have studied alcohol's effects on sleep for more than five years, found that alcohol interferes with the brain's built-in system for regulating a person's need for sleep.
The researchers said that the prevailing thought was that alcohol promotes sleep by changing a person's circadian rhythm - the body's built-in 24-hour clock, but they discovered that alcohol actually promotes sleep by affecting a person's sleep homeostasis - the brain's built-in mechanism that regulates your sleepiness and wakefulness.
The investigators found that after extended periods of frequent drinking, subjects would fall asleep as expected, but would wake within a few hours and would be unable to fall back asleep. When the subjects were not given alcohol, the researchers found that subjects showed symptomatic insomnia.
Sleep homeostasis balances the body's need for sleep in relation to how long a person has been awake. If an individual loses sleep, the body produces adenosine, a naturally occurring sleep-regulating substance that increases a person's need for sleep. When a person goes to sleep early, sleep homeostasis is shifted and he or she may wake up in the middle of the night or early morning.
The researchers found that alcohol alters the sleep homeostatic mechanism and puts pressure on an individual to sleep. When this happens, the sleep period is shifted, and a person may experience disrupted sleep.
While investigating the effect of alcohol on sleep homeostasis, the researchers found that during acute alcohol withdrawal, subjects displayed a significant increase in wakefulness with a reduction in rapid eye movement and non-rapid eye movement sleep, causing insomnia-like symptoms and suggests an impaired sleep homeostasis.
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