Having a little “nip” of something at bedtime is traditionally supposed to help you sleep.
Maybe it does; but is it the right kind of sleep? Probably not.
A Japanese study, published Aug 2011 online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, looked at the quality of sleep after alcohol intake. They found disturbing news. Alcohol interferes with the nourishing and restorative aspect of sleep.
They tested 10 male university students (hardly “normal” human beings!). Using electrocardiograms, the researchers focused on the relationship between the volunteers’ heart rate variability and their sleep. The team found that alcohol increased heart rate and interfered with the restorative functions of sleep — and the more alcohol the participants drank, the greater the effect.
Apparently, the first half of sleep after alcohol intake looks good on the EEG. But assessment of autonomic nerve function showed that drinking leads to insomnia rather than good sleep.
The effect on habitual drinkers might be even worse, the researchers pointed out. This was a study after only ONE dose.
Certainly, anyone who drinks regularly will have observed that alcohol causes insomnia. It’s hardly surprising that alcohol should have negative consequences on the quality of sleep.
My only complaint is the usual one for alcohol studies: the researchers did not differentiate what TYPE of alcohol. All good research points to the fact that wine is healthful. But beer and spirits are not.