As with most substance addictions, excessive alcohol abuse can do a number on your body. From negatively affecting your heart and liver to completely throwing off your circadian sleep cycle, living with an alcohol use disorder is both physically exhausting and emotionally draining.
For many people living with an addiction to alcohol, they reach a point where simply going to sleep every night takes a few drinks to “ease the tension” and “take the edge off.” In reality, this habit is not only destroying the natural homeostasis of their body, but it is also stopping them from actually getting a restful night’s sleep more often than not.
Does Alcohol Help You Sleep, or Does Alcohol Keep You Awake?
Research has shown that nearly 20 percent of adults use alcohol as a way to fall asleep. After all, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can make you pass out, and that’s falling asleep, right?
This research also indicates that while drinking does cause drowsiness, drinking to excess, or right before falling asleep, actually induces insomnia over time by interfering with your body’s ability to settle into a deep, restful sleep.
That’s because drinking excessively affects the amount of time you need to initially fall asleep, disrupts the natural structure and duration of your sleep states, and decreases your overall sleep time.1 Simply put, alcohol addiction actually results in a lack of good sleep and this has been consistently linked to serious health problems.
The Effects of Alcohol on Your Sleep
While alcohol is a known sedative, don’t let that fool you. Excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol addiction are known to negatively impact brain functioning and physical health, which, in turn, disrupts your body’s ability to consistently get restful sleep.
Alcohol can impact your sleep cycle by:
• Reducing your body’s ability to settle into the first stages of sleep
• Shortening deep, restorative sleep
• Disrupting neurotransmitter functioning within the brain
• Hindering your body’s ability to repair itself by suppressing REM sleep
These alcohol-induced sleep issues have long-term effects on your body’s ability to repair itself. This has been shown to deteriorate both the physical and mental wellbeing of any person struggling with alcohol addiction.
This is due to a few key facts that include the following:
- When alcohol delays the first stages of REM sleep, your brain is negatively impacted because it suppresses the creation or proteins and cells needed for normal brain function.
- Drinking throws the neurochemicals in your brain out of whack, disrupting nerve signals that keep your sleep cycle in check by decreasing the production of GABA, which is basically in charge of your entire sleep cycle.
- Excessive alcohol consumption increases your level of adenosine, which controls the signal of other neurotransmitters, like glutamine and GABA. This results in sleep that is fundamentally disruptive and prohibits your body from gaining the physical benefits of a naturally occurring night of restful sleep.
However you look at it, drinking to fall asleep will eventually result in a host of physical problems and neurological malfunctions.
How the Loss of Sleep Affects Well-being and Health
Not getting restful sleep can be detrimental to your health, but the amount of damage done by alcohol induced insomnia and non-restorative sleep can be more dangerous than you know. Some of the more concerning affects include:
- Poor Liver Functioning
Alcohol addiction destroys multiple organs in your body, but the liver may be the one that suffers the most damage. The liver itself acts as a filtering system for your body by pulling toxins from the bloodstream.
Like all body organs and systems, the liver functions in accordance with your circadian rhythm, and when alcohol interferes with your natural sleep cycle, your liver’s ability to function properly is significantly impacted. This can result in compromised liver functioning, liver toxicity and liver disease.
- A Leaky Gut
Maintaining a healthy gut is essential to overall health and wellness. The circadian disruption associated with alcohol addiction has been shown to cause leaky gut syndrome, which occurs when sleep cycles are out of tune. When sleep is chronically poor, the lining of your gastrointestinal tract becomes weak. This makes it more susceptible to a leakiness that allows toxins, bacteria and food to seep through the intestine and into your bloodstream.
While these are not the only physical consequences of alcohol induced sleep problems, they are some of the obvious concerns you face when living with an alcohol addiction. Addressing these problems is imperative to avoiding re-occurring sleep problems and correcting your circadian rhythm as soon as possible.
Holistic Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
Alcohol has no power over you. Your new life starts the moment you declare you have complete control
over your actions, health and future. At Ranch Creek Recovery, we provide holistic detox and alcohol recovery treatment that offers personalized and long-lasting care.
Learn more about our alcohol treatment program or contact us today to start your journey toward detox and recovery.