Have you ever woken up sweating or anxious in the middle of the night after enjoying a night out drinking? Or have you ever had intense and vivid dreams the next morning while sleeping in after such a night? What we used to think of as a “night cap” actually does far more harm than good for human sleep.
Many people feel alcohol helps them fall asleep, and it does shorten the time it takes to fall asleep; however, alcohol reduces the quality of sleep significantly. As neuroscientist Dr. Matt Walker says, “We shouldn’t mistake sedation for sleep.” Alcohol blocks REM sleep, which is the part of our sleep cycle in which most of the important functions take place. In other words, just because you’re not awake doesn’t mean you’re getting the benefits of sleep. When alcohol is involved, you’re almost certainly missing out on them.