Alcohol Induced Sleep Disorder

Alcohol consumed at bedtime may decrease the time required to fall asleep but typically disrupts the second half of the sleep cycle, resulting in subsequent daytime fatigue and sleepiness. Even a moderate dose of alcohol consumed within 6 hours prior to bedtime can increase wakefulness during the second half of sleep (Vitiello, 1997). Alcohol use prior to bedtime will also aggravate obstructive sleep apnea, and heavy drinkers or those with alcoholism are at increased risk for sleep apnea. Patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea are at a fivefold increased risk for fatigue-related traffic crashes if they consume two or more drinks per day compared to obstructive sleep apnea patients who consume little or no alcohol (Bassetti & Aldrich, 1996).

In alcoholics, heavy drinking eventually leads to increased time required to fall asleep, frequent awakenings, and a decrease in subjective quality of sleep. Slow-wave sleep is interrupted, and during periods of withdrawal there is pronounced insomnia and increased rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Following withdrawal from alcohol, sleep patterns may be abnormal, even following years of abstinence.

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