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Approximately one-third of our lives are spent sleeping, and it is estimated that at 1 in 5 Americans uses alcohol to get to sleep. However, according to new research from the National Institutes of Health, alcohol is not helping promote better rest. In fact, it is becoming evident that alcohol negatively affects the body's natural sleep cycle.
Alcohol has been known to have a depressing effect on the body, and this was attributed to changes in the circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock. The effect is actually more closely related to the brain's regulation of sleeping and wakefulness. What this means is that there is a depressing effect causing users to feel sleepy. What follows, though, is not exactly the rest that we seek.
The use of alcohol before bed actually disrupts the quality of sleep received making the rest less beneficial for the individual. Additionally, as alcohol is a diuretic, this increases the need to use the restroom before the body would normally wake inhibiting the sleeping time.
Researchers are recommending that the 20% of Americans using alcohol to sleep should seek out alternatives. Physicians can suggest alternative sleep aids that can be used to ensure more restful sleep. Additionally, there may be other factors causing the sleep disruption that can be addressed in individualized treatment.