Boozing and snoozing

Party time! Don't be surprised if you're tired and grouchy the day after though....

I’ve really embraced this assignment and I’ve had a lot of fun! (For those of you who are confused, let me explain: A couple of weeks ago I announced that I would be testing the impact of certain foods and drinks on my sleep quality, commencing with alcohol.)

I started conservatively with a glass of fruity Spanish red (Torre de Rejas Reserva Bodegas Lopez Mercier, La Mancha, 2003) on the first Friday and Saturday nights of my experiment. Then I really stepped things up….One glass of pink champagne, and one-too-many glasses of the sommelier’s choice of white and red, at Michel Roux Jr.’s Le Gavroche with friends last Wednesday was a real treat. On Thursday, I enjoyed several glasses of the house white at The Slaughtered Lamb pub in Clerkenwell to celebrate a friend’s last days of freedom before marriage. Add to that half a beautiful bottle of Mas de Daumas Gassax Rose Frizant NV (from Joseph Barnes Wines in Saffron Walden), savoured on Saturday night with my other half.  Oh, and I can’t forget the sweet Lady Gray tea, flavoured with a generous measure of amaretto, that I sipped on Sunday evening. In short, I’ve consumed a lot of booze!

So, what have I discovered about the impact of my alcohol-fueled fun on my sleep? Well, it’s all a bit hazy……

Just kidding. Even when I was struggling to walk in my M&S heels, I was focused on my goal: to reveal the real effect of alcohol on sleep. In just a few days of assessment, I have made the following not-so-astonishing discoveries:

  • Sedating: Alcohol is a wonderful relaxant and, at the end of a hectic week, there’s little that can beat the instant calming effect of a beautiful glass of wine.
  • Sleep inducing: I had no problems dropping off to sleep after my evening drinking. In fact, staying awake would have posed greater difficulty.
  • Sleep disrupting? Sometimes….

According to sleep experts, alcohol disturbs normal sleep patterns and often leads to a night of broken sleep, making it harder to get up the next day. The message, therefore, is lay off the booze as it can cause sleep problems. This message is too simplistic for my liking….surely giving up alcohol is a little extreme??!!

On the nights I over-indulged, then yes, I admit I didn’t have the most restful nights’ sleep. Whilst I nodded off almost instantaneously, the nights were punctuated with trips to the fridge for water and visits to the loo.  And yes, the morning after I wanted nothing more than to hibernate from the world and recover with a “fat” Coke.

On the other hand, a small glass of wine in the evening, together with a glass of water, or maybe followed by herbal tea before bed, had no noticeable impact on my sleep. I slept as usual and noticed no change in alertness the next day.

My discoveries lead me to this conclusion: “enjoy alcohol in moderation”, said whilst sitting on the fence!

I’m not advocating including alcohol as part of your bedtime routine; there are many alternative ways to relax before bedtime and, in my opinion, relying on alcohol to unwind is no good at all. But always living by rigid rules is no good either and I don’t see the need to give up alcohol. It’s all about moderation. So, if you have a cold beer or a glass of crisp sauvignon blanc a few nights a week, enjoy it, and don’t worry about it.

I know I won’t be. For now though, I think it’s time to give my liver a rest……For my next project I’ll be testing the sleep-enhancing properties of warm milk. Yummy!

You can find drinking limits and other useful information on the Drinkaware website. It goes without saying, but please don’t drink and drive, people.

Image: George Stojkovic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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