• Sun, Jan 27 2013

If You Think A Nightcap Is Going To Help You Get Some Rest After A Long Day Of Parenting – Think Again

shutterstock_93760696After a long day I know I love to pour myself a giant glass of wine and settle into some relaxation. Well, I’m pregnant right now – but in general that’s what I like to do. I’ve always felt that it helps wind me down and gets me ready for a good night’s sleep. Some new studies show that I’m wrong about this. A good night’s sleep is pretty much destroyed by the effects of alcohol.

From the Huffington Post:

A new review of studies, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, shows that alcohol changes the normal rhythms of sleep by increasing the amount of time people spend in “deep sleep,” but also decreasing the amount of time people spend in REM sleep by disrupting sleep during this stage, which is necessary for memory, concentration and motor skills.

“In sum, alcohol on the whole is not useful for improving a whole night’s sleep,” study researcher Chris Idzikowski, who is the director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said in a statement. “Sleep may be deeper to start with, but then becomes disrupted. Additionally, that deeper sleep will probably promote snoring and poorer breathing. So, one shouldn’t expect better sleep with alcohol.”

The study shows that alcohol increases the amount of time that people spend in the later stages of non-REM sleep, called “slow-wave sleep,” or “deep sleep.” This sounds like it should be good – this is the time when our bodies repair themselves, right? Yes, but apparently if you fall into this “deep sleep” quickly, you are more apt to have disrupted sleep later on in the night. The result – insomnia. A 2011 study showed this was especially true for women.

A friend of mine joked last week that you would be hard-pressed to find a mom blogger who doesn’t mention wine on a regular basis. I have no idea what she’s talking about. Kidding – I totally do. But I have enough on my plate with kids and work and I feel pretty okay about rewarding myself with a nightcap at the end of a long day. Even if it does really screw up my sleep patterns. My two year old screws up my sleep patterns, too – and I won’t be abandoning him any time soon. This is the kind of reasoning a pregnant, sleep-deprived brain gives you. And I haven’t had any wine in months. See – damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Drink up!

(photo: Stokkete/ Shutterstock.com)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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