Cinco de Drinko: How Alcohol Affects Sleep

Cinco de Mayo falls on a Friday this year, which means you can indulge in as many margaritas as you want without an early wake-up call looming over your head. Even though you can sleep as late as you want the morning after the margarita extravaganza, alcohol has a negative impact on your sleep, so you'll probably wake up on seis de Mayo feeling tired and groggy. While you may fall asleep faster after throwing a few tequilas back, the actual quality of sleep is significantly lower. So why exactly does alcohol cause you to sleep terribly?

Heart Rate and Nervous System

Restless sleep after drinking alcohol Both your heart and your nervous system are more active while you sleep after a few drinks than they would be on a normal night. This happens because your body is actively trying to adjust to the effects of the alcohol. Once the alcohol is worn off, your body doesn't slow down, causing you to wake up 17% more often in the second half of the night than you normally would.

Delayed Onset of REM Sleep

When you drink more than one or two drinks, you fall asleep anywhere between 4 to 16 minutes faster than you would on a normal night and you enter deep sleep about 8 minutes sooner. This leads to a false sense of high quality sleep because, although you get more deep sleep, alcohol delays the onset of REM sleep, which is the most restorative type of sleep. REM sleep is not only delayed after drinking, it also decreases by about 9% during the first half of the night, which is a big contributor to the groggy, need-to-stay-in-bed feeling the next day.

Frequent Trips to the Bathroom

Not being able to sleep after drinking

The idea behind "breaking the seal" is something we have all fallen victim to- the concept that once you use the bathroom after you've started drinking, you'll have to go repeatedly throughout the night. These frequent trips to the bathroom don't stop once you're ready for bed either. Not only is alcohol a potent diuretic, causing you to need to go more frequently, but it also irritates the lining of your bladder, causing it to feel fuller than it actually is. All of this leads to you getting up numerous times throughout the night to use the bathroom. At the end of the day, nothing will keep us from being excited about celebrating Cinco de Mayo. The new warm weather, the delicious tacos and the refreshing margaritas have us chomping at the bit in anticipation. Lucky for us, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Friday this year, so if you do over-indulge in tequila, use Saturday to recover from your less-than-ideal sleep with high-fiber foods, plenty of water and electrolytes and a good nap.