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Here’s How to Prevent Alcohol from Interfering with Your Sleep

A woman relaxing with a glass of wine in front of a fireplace.
Rasulov/Shutterstock

We’ve got some bad news, wine fans. That nightly glass you drink to help you sleep might actually be backfiring. There could be a way to prevent this, though!

Dr. Kristen Willeumier explained to Well + Good that even a small amount of alcohol can change how easily you’re able to rest. Initially, a drink can make you feel relaxed, and even improve sleep quality in the nonrapid eye movement stage (the lighter sleep you get throughout the night).

However, when REM sleep kicks in, that’s when the problem starts. REM is the type of sleep that improves your cognitive function, regulates your emotions during waking hours, and helps you retain memories. Alcohol reduces the amount of time you spend in this all-important state, which isn’t great.

Of course, no one expects you to start forgoing your nightcap right now because, you know, there’s a global pandemic. According to Willeumier, limiting your consumption to one day per week will help.

If cutting back that much isn’t part of your 2021 survival plan, though, Willeumier recommends setting a time limit. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and has a half-life of about six hours. This means if you want to prevent it from affecting your sleep, try to have your last drink no later than six hours before bedtime.

So, happy day drinking, everyone!

[Via Well + Good]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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