Alcohol's Role in Disrupting Sleep: An Evidence-Based Exploration

Every so often, many of us enjoy a drink, be it in the form of a celebratory champagne toast or a relaxing glass of wine at dinner. But how does this alcoholic indulgence impact the quality of our sleep? Let's explore the connection between these bedtime beverages and our sleep.
An illustration of a wine glass on a table,  juxtaposed against a dark, starry night background.

How does alcohol affect sleep?

Many people consume alcohol because of its sedative effects, thinking it will improve their sleep. However, the situation is more complicated.

It is true that alcohol can help a person fall asleep. However, the overall quality of sleep is decreased.

Researchers have found that consuming alcohol before bed has a negative impact on the overall quality of sleep. It also negatively influences REM sleep.

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Alcohol affects sleep at various dosages. At low and moderate doses, the effects on REM sleep in the first half of the night are not clear, but at high doses, the reduction in REM sleep in the first part of sleep is significant [1].

A study found that a dose of alcohol leading to a blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.1% reduced REM density at the beginning of the night [2].

Another study found that a moderate dose of alcohol (0.49 g/kg) decreased REM sleep across the entire night [3].

Other studies found that a dose of 0.5 g/kg ethanol reduced REM sleep for both insomniacs and normal sleepers [4], and a high dose of alcohol (4.0 g/kg) reduced REM sleep after an anesthetic effect [5].


While alcohol may offer a tempting solution for relaxation and swift sleep onset, it can have significant effects on deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It can reduce the amount of deep sleep and disrupt the normal sleep cycle, including REM sleep. Studies have shown that alcohol can decrease slow-wave sleep (SWS), which is the deepest stage of sleep, particularly in the second half of the night. These effects can contribute to sleep disturbances and may impact the overall quality of sleep. [1,2,6,7,8].

Therefore, considering these findings, it might be prudent for individuals to limit or avoid alcohol consumption close to bedtime, ensuring a more restful and restorative night's sleep.


This article was not written by a medical professional and does not offer health advice. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the usage of MediSearch, an AI-powered search engine, providing science-based answers to medical queries. Always consult a medical professional regarding your condition.