Ending the evening with a boozy beverage might sound like an old romantic idea straight out of a classic movie, but as it turns out, that night cap might not be such a great idea if you’re hoping to get a good, healthy night’s sleep. We know this might sound paradoxical, as alcohol can make us feel very drowsy and sleepy, but it’s actually known to interrupt normal sleep patterns and can even cause bouts of insomnia. Alcohol relaxes the muscles, and there is such a thing as too much relaxation. According to Very Well Health, “This can contribute to relaxation of the airway and worsen snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.” The other issue? As the night goes on, your booze-induced drowsiness will fade away, and as Very Well Health put it, “this can contribute to sleep fragmentation and awakenings.” Oh, and don’t expect any deep, REM sleep.
For all of these reasons, it’s a good idea to put some space between the time you have your last drink of the evening and the time to plan on heading to bed.
How long you should wait after your last drink to go to sleep
According to The Sleep Foundation’s official website, if you hope to get a good night of shuteye after a few cocktails, “you should stop drinking alcohol at least four hours before bedtime.” While that may seem like a long time—especially if you find yourself out late at a bar or social gathering— it’s the best way to protect your sleep, since even a small amount of alcohol can disrupt normal sleep patterns.
As a 2018 study (via Journal Medical Research) indicates, while high amounts of alcohol (which The Sleep Foundation categorizes as “more than two servings per day for men or one serving per day for women”) can decrease sleep quality by a whopping 39.2 percent, both moderate (“two servings per day for men or one serving per day for women,” according to The Sleep Foundation) and low amounts of alcohol (“fewer than two servings per day for men or one serving per day for women,” according to The Sleep Foundation) can still disrupt sleep pretty significantly, at 24 percent and 9.3 percent respectively. So if you are hoping to get restful, healthy sleep, it fewer drinks you have, the better, and the longer you can wait between your last drink and hitting the hay, the better rest you’re likely to get.
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