The sleep that one can get after having a few drinks of alcohol may persuade you that drinking alcohol can lead to great sleep. And although you may feel like you are getting deep sleep, the quality of your sleep may actually be too poor to offer any benefits. Alcohol interrupts the process of REM sleep, which is important for the restorative feeling of sleep. Without this stage, you may wake up still feeling lethargic, and unrested, regardless of how long you slept. Those who abuse alcohol may have an even worse time with sleep. Keep reading to find out how alcoholism is impacting your sleep.
The relationship between alcoholism and mental health disorder
Those with substance abuse disorders, including alcoholism, normally have a mental health disorder that is also at play. The two of these together are a storm for interrupted or non-existent sleep patterns. Major depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder are just some of the psychiatric disorders that can have a negative impact on sleep.
Those with these disorders may find a soothing or numbing comfort with substances including alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant meaning that it depresses the brain and slows down some of the functions. If someone is having stressful thoughts or having trouble getting control of their mind, they may turn to alcohol to soothe themselves. The more alcohol they consume, the higher their tolerance and the more alcohol they have to drink to get drunk.
This relationship is also true in the reverse. Those who heavily use alcohol may contribute to the development of psychiatric disorders like depression. Sleep disorders like insomnia may also develop due to the high use of alcohol because of the disruptive effects that alcohol has on sleep.
There is a complex and bi-directional relationship between sleep, insomnia, alcoholism, and mental health disorders which can make it difficult to pinpoint and cause and treatment plan for any of them alone or together.
How alcohol abuse impacts sleep
Alcohol abuse can cause insomnia, a sleep disorder in which one cannot go to sleep. insomnia is the diagnosis that one gets after they have trouble sleeping. There is primary insomnia, which means that someone has trouble sleeping who has no other medical diagnosis.
If insomnia results from something else, then it is referred to as secondary insomnia. Insomnia can either be acute, lasting for a short period of time, or chronic, which is lasting for a long period of time and happening often.
Alcohol's disruptive effects on sleep can cause secondary insomnia because it throws off the body's ability to regulate sleep. Reducing alcohol use may also lead to insomnia as the withdrawing effects of alcohol are enough to be disruptive to one's sleep efforts.
Treatment for alcohol abuse and insomnia
Treating alcohol abuse and insomnia can be a hard battle considering treating one can make the other difficult. It may be easier to first treat alcoholism as it may be the main cause of insomnia. During the withdrawal processes, individuals may get the shakes, delirium tremens, nausea, seizures, and possibly even death if it isn't done correctly.
To help mitigate some of these consequences, there are some options including a medical detox, which is a physician-assisted withdrawal management program, medical care to manage the symptoms of withdrawal, therapy to work on the underlying cause, and support system.
If you are having trouble with sleep and may have a substance abuse disorder, you can take the free online sleep test to work with a sleep professional.