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How Alcohol Disrupts Sleep

While drinking a small amount of alcohol can help you sleep better in the first part of the night, it is not an effective sleep aid and can seriously disrupt your sleep cycle.

“Alcohol creates problems in the second half of the sleep cycle, causing fitful sleep, frequent awakenings from dreams and difficulty returning to sleep,” says W. Keith Graham, MD, D-ABSM, pulmonologist and sleep medicine physician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “This happens most often when you consume alcohol shortly before you go to sleep.”

W. Keith Graham, MD, D-ABSM
W. Keith Graham, MD, D-ABSM

If you have problems with your sleep cycle, you will be sleep deprived the next day, which can impair your driving – even if there is no alcohol left in your system.

Alcohol also worsens existing sleep disorders. Because alcohol makes the airways more collapsible, people with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing more frequently and for longer periods of time when they have been drinking.

For more information, call the Sleep Disorders Center at 573-331-5837.

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