A new small-scale study showed the impact of drinking before going to bed on heart rate and sleep.
It involved 10 male university students, who were given low levels, high levels or no alcohol to drink before bed. Drinking higher doses of alcohol was found to reduce the amount of REM sleep, and resulted in a shallower sleep during the latter half of the night. It also appeared to adversely affect the part of the brain that usually controls the body during sleep. From this, the researchers concluded that the alcohol had disturbed the restorative effects of sleep. This was a small study, and it has several limitations that mean that its results are not conclusive. Further research involving more subjects and using a different study design is needed write authors.
This study was conducted by researchers from the Akita University School of Medicine, the Saiseikai Nagasaki Hospital, and the Akita Kaiseikai Hospital in Japan and was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Dr Yohei Sagawa, of the department of neuropsychiatry at Akita University, said, “Although the first half of sleep after alcohol intake looks good, the result of the assessment shows that drinking leads to insomnia rather than good sleep.” Good quality sleep is important for maintaining the systems which regulate the body’s recuperative processes,’ he added. He said alcohol-related sleep deprivation could affect a range of bodily functions including digestion or the ability to become sexually aroused.