What the sleep?

I spent years drinking every night. A bottle or so of wine, or drinks out with friends. I have always loved sleep, and I know it’s good for me, so I have always tried to get at least 7 hours- even if those 7 hours are after many drinks. Sleep is sleep, right? I found out the hard way that it’s just not true. Under the influence sleep isn’t real sleep. Sleep is the time that your body uses to rest and repair all of the damage you did to it the day before. In the industry, that damage is a daily occurrence. If you aren’t giving your body it’s time to repair, your everyday wear and tear is going to get much worse, much more quickly. There is also a disturbing correlation between alcohol, lack of sleep, and depression. 

On average, 20% of adults use alcohol to help them get to sleep. In the industry? That number is much, much higher. Is it any wonder that the average number of people suffering from fatigue, burnout, addiction issues, repetitive stress injuries, and other illnesses is so much higher as well?  We need to sleep, and we do a good job of preventing our bodies from getting the rest that it needs. 

Why does alcohol affect sleep? Well, first of all, you spend the first half of the night metabolizing the alcohol that you drank, preventing your body from hitting that REM sleep that that you need. The second half of the night is when the sedative effects of the alcohol wear off and your body goes into a sort of rebound period, which results in light, restless sleep- still none of the REM. In addition, drunk sleeping suppresses breathing, which can lead to sleep apnea- that’s a condition where you stop breathing for periods during the night. Scary stuff! 

There is also the fact that if you wake up to go to the bathroom, you might not be able to fall back to sleep. Think that it's normal to pee three times a night? It's not. 

So how much can you drink and when? Research shows that the body is most effective at metabolizing alcohol in the early evening. Happy hour is the cocktail hour for a reason! Worst time? Morning! A mimosa with brinch will do more damage to your system than a drink later on in the day. A good rule of thumb is to stop drinking at least 3 hours before bedtime. Switching to non alcoholic beverages works fine, as long as you aren't having to pee every few hours during the night.

It’s not always possible to add hours of sleep, especially when you work so much and are trying to fit a whole life into your off time. Maximizing the quality of your sleep can make a huge difference in your life. Sound impossible? Give it a try for 1 week and see how you feel. You might just find that those extra hours of sleep get you the results that you want during the day- being well rested does that for you! 

If you want to talk about how you can get your best sleep and live your best life in the industry, get in touch! I would love to jump on the phone with you.

Laura Mcwilliams