How Alcoholism Affects Both Your Sleep and Your Life Expectancy

Alcohol Takes a Toll on All Areas of Your Life

It is a large misunderstanding that alcohol makes you sleep better and can sometimes make it easier to fall asleep. Contrary to this popular belief, alcohol actually does the exact opposite. Alcohol consumption results in sleep disruption and can take a toll on the overall quality of your life. Needless to say, alcohol affects both our waking lives as well as our lives when we are asleep.

Understanding the negative effects of alcohol on our sleeping patterns can help us make better decisions when it comes to consuming alcohol as a sleeping aid. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can help you fall asleep quicker but it is also attributed to a low-quality sleep in a couple of hours after you have fallen asleep.

How Sleep Patterns are Affected

When you consume alcohol before you sleep, there are various sleep patterns and activity that are altered. Delta activity is responsible for the initial ability to fall asleep and puts you into what is considered a ‘deep sleep’. During this time, alpha activity begins to take place which is the type of sleep that leaves you in a sort of drowsy and resting state; not a deep sleep. Together, these two brain activities affect your ability to have a good nights rest.

Alcohol consumption before bedtime also interrupts your circadian rhythm. This is the rhythm that is responsible for our internal clock and sends various signals to the brain such as digestion, body temperature, and hormone release. When the circadian rhythm is affected, the body may be extremely cold or extremely hot.

Alcohol affects the normal production of chemicals in the brain and in turn, wakes the body up a few hours after you have fallen asleep. The production of adenosine, a chemical in the brain that is responsible for inducing sleep, is increased when you fall asleep and soon decreases which explains why people fall asleep quickly when they drink alcohol but wake up several hours later wide awake. This explains why you never feel fully rested after a night of drinking, even if you do happen to get some sleep in.

Alcohol is Not a Sleep Aid

Maybe people assume that because alcohol makes you drowsy that it is a great way to help you fall asleep. Although alcohol may induce short-term sleep, this dangerous pattern can lead you down a dangerous road and can result in insomnia. In turn, this negatively affects all aspects of your life as you will not be as alert, further affecting your ability to perform your best at work or as a parent.

The regular dependence on alcohol as a sleep aid can lead to alcohol abuse and addiction. This is a way in which people slowly become alcoholics; it’s these habits that they feel are harmless that turn into full-on abuse. Alcohol has a tricky way of convincing you that you are getting a restful sleep when in reality, it is the opposite.  

Alcohol and Life Expectancy

Research suggests that excessive alcohol consumption can take half a decade off of your life expectancy. Drinking alcohol in large quantities increases the risk of a stroke, heart failure, or liver disease and in turn, lessens your likelihood of living a long, healthy life.

It’s best to enjoy alcohol in moderation and avoid binge drinking or drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. These patterns have proven to have more detrimental effects of your body and brain as opposed to drinking in moderation. Reducing your alcohol intake will, in turn, reduce your chances of struggling with an alcohol-related health issue.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.