(Natural News) It is known that excessive alcohol drinking has a lot of negative consequences. However, research shows that even drinking as little as one glass of alcohol can also harm you. In fact, a study published in the journal JMIR Mental Health has found that one drink of alcohol can impair sleep quality.
The study was carried out by a team of researchers at Tampere University of Technology, the University of Jyväskylä, and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Finland who looked at the effects of alcohol consumption on the autonomic nervous system during sleep. In conducting the study, the research team analyzed data from more than 4,000 participants aged between 18 and 65. The participants’ heart rate variability (HRV) was recorded in uncontrolled, real-world conditions using a special device. HRV is a measure that tells how many variations are present between heartbeats within a specific time frame. HRV measurements made it possible for the researchers to evaluate the participants’ quality of sleep.
The research team looked at the participants’ first three hours of sleep and evaluated their sleep HRV recordings from at least two nights: one where the participants had drunk alcohol and one where they had not. Alcohol consumption was classified into three: low, moderate, and high. These categories were based on the body weight of the participants. In general, a low intake of alcohol could be equivalent to one to two drinks, while moderate would equate to two to six, and high would mean over six drinks.
Results revealed that even low alcohol consumption reduced sleep quality, lowering the physiological recovery that sleep normally offers by 9.3 percent. Moreover, moderate alcohol intake decreased restorative sleep quality by 24 percent, and high alcohol consumption by 39.2 percent. The outcomes were the same regardless of gender and physical activity. However, the negative effects of alcohol consumption were more distinct among young, active people compared to older people. Alcohol increased heart rate, which in turn weakened heart rate variability, harming the quality of sleep.
“While we may not always be able to add hours to our sleep time, with insight into how our behaviors influence the restorative quality of our sleep we can learn to sleep more efficiently. A small change, as long as it’s the right one, can have a big impact,” said study co-author Tero Myllymäki, of the University of Jyväskylä.
Improving sleep quality
A poor night’s sleep can cause fatigue, short temper, and lack of focus. Occasional bad-quality sleep will cause tiredness and irritability the next day, but it will not harm your health. If getting poor sleep quality continues, the effects on mental health will worsen. The brain will fog, resulting in concentration and decision-making problems. You may also feel down and fall asleep during the day. The risk of injury and accidents also increases. Furthermore, regular poor sleep quality will not only increase the risk of serious health conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, it will also shorten life expectancy. If you constantly lack sleep, it is best to take extra steps to improve sleep quality, such as the following:
- Block out light by turning off ceiling lighting, avoiding TV in bed, and putting your phone on night mode if you use them after dark. Being in a dark room will help the brain release melatonin, a hormone that naturally induces sleep.
- Read. Reading before bed will help clear the mind and improve sleep quality.
- Set a sleep schedule.
- Exercise regularly, but not too late in the day.
- Sleep in a room with a temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit to get the best sleep condition.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals at night. Instead, eat these five plant-based foods to help you sleep.
Read more news stories and studies on alcohol and other foods by going to Food.news.