A new study suggests that even moderate drinking can still affect sleep quantity and quality.
The study conducted at the Trinity College in Dublin had 47 college students participants which were all asked to wear actigraphs (a type of wristband) for a week. The bands serve as indicators when participants are asleep. They were also asked to keep sleep journals to record their sleeping patterns.
It was noted that on the average, participants drank 84 milliliters of alcohol on a daily basis. This amount is equivalent to roughly four glasses of red wine or three pints of beer. The participants were then divided into two groups, the low-dose and high-dose group, with those consuming alcohol below the average in the low-dose group while those who drank more than the average in the high-dose group.
Data gathered showed that the low-dose group woke up 47 minutes earlier when they drink alcohol compared to days when they don’t drink at all. On the other hand, high dose drinkers only lessened sleeping time by 22 minutes, which was not considered significant.
Study researcher Pierce Geoghegan explained how alcohol disrupts sleep, regardless of the amount consumed. Drinking way too much alcohol interferes with the quality of sleep, while drinking even less than the normal average can affect the amount of sleeping time.
Geoghegan said that alcohol should never be used as a sleeping aide. There have been previous studies which confirmed that alcohol consumption only affects the second half of sleeping time, but the new study shows proof that alcohol can cause disturbance for the whole duration of one’s sleep.
While alcohol can make one fall asleep immediately after drinking, it can interfere with sleep quality through the process of “metabolic rebound;” as alcohol levels in the blood go down, a person also slowly gains alertness until he completely wakes up.