We all know that excessive alcohol drinking has a lot of negative consequences. But did you know that even drinking only as little as one glass of alcohol can also harm you? Actually, in a study published in the journal JMIR Mental Health, it was discovered that one drink of alcohol can impair sleep quality.
A team of researchers from Finland conducted a study about the effects of alcohol consumption on the autonomic nervous system during sleep. Data from more that 4,000 participants aged between 18 t 65 were analyzed.
Using a special drive, participants’ heart rate variability (HRV) was recorded in uncontrolled, real-world conditions. HRV is a measure that tells how many variations are present between heartbeats within a specific time frame. Researchers were able to evaluate the participants’ quality of sleep with the help of HRV measurement.
The first three hours of sleep of the participants were observed and evaluated their sleep HRV recordings from at least two nights: one where the participants had drunk alcohol and one where they had not. Alcohol consumption was classified into three: low, moderate, and high. These categories were based on the participant’s body weight. Generally, a low intake of alcohol could be equivalent to one to two drinks, while moderate would equate to two to six, and high would mean over six drinks.
At the end of the study, researchers found that even low alcohol consumption reduced sleep quality, thus lowering the physiological recovery that sleep normally offers by 9.3 percent. Similarly, moderate alcohol intake decreased restorative sleep quality by 24 percent, and high alcohol consumption by 39.2 percent. The outcomes were still the same regardless of gender and physical activity. But, as compared to older people, the negative effects of alcohol consumption were more distinct among young, active people. Alcohol increased heart rate, which weakened heart rate variability, therefore, harming the quality of sleep.
The study co-author TeroMyllymäki, of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, states that:
“While we may not always be able to add hours to our sleep time, with insight into how our behaviors influence the restorative quality of our sleep we can learn to sleep more efficiently. A small change, as long as it’s the right one, can have a big impact,”
How To Improve Sleep Quality
A sleepless night can cause short temper, fatigue, and lack of focus. Though it will not harm your health, occasional bad-quality sleep will cause irritability and tiredness the next day. However, if it continues, its effects on mental health will worsen. Also, during the day you may feel down and fall asleep, thus increasing injury and accidents. Aside from the risk of serious health conditions, regular poor sleep quality can also lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.
Here Are Some Of The Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Quality Of Sleep:
- Sleep in a room with a temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit to get the best sleep condition.
- Block out light by turning off ceiling lighting, putting your phone on night mode if you use them after dark, and avoiding TV in bed. Being in a dark room will help the brain release melatonin, a hormone that naturally induces sleep.
- Reading before bed will help clear the mind and improve sleep quality.
- Set a sleep schedule.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals at night. Instead, eat plant-based foods to help your sleep.
- Exercise regularly, but not too late in the day.