30th November, 2021 — Alcohol
Drink less, sleep better, feel healthier
Did you know that alcohol affects your sleep quality?
Sleep is a foundation for good health, not to mention to be able to play your best. Ask any professional athlete or player and they’ll tell you that getting enough sleep is part of their fitness and training routine.
This is because sleep plays an important role in the body, affecting things like our appetite and metabolism, our mental health, and our immune system.
While we can’t control everything that affects our sleep (like our genes, or high stress global and personal events) there are many factors we do have control over.
Most people know that caffeine and tobacco are stimulants and can contribute to poor sleep.
But, did you know that alcohol also affects your sleep quality?
Does alcohol affect sleep?
Alcohol has sedative effects, so people might find it easier to fall asleep – or even nod off when they don’t mean to – if they’ve been drinking alcohol.
Just because you fall asleep quickly doesn’t mean that you will have a good quality sleep. Alcohol affects your sleep cycles during the night.
Because alcohol disrupts your sleep, it can affect how you feel and function the next day too.
What happens when we don't get enough sleep?
Anyone who’s had a bad night’s sleep knows how it can make you feel.
In the short term, getting poor sleep may:
- make you feel more irritable and less patient
- increase feelings of stress and anxiety
- reduce attention and reaction times
- reduced athletic performance
- lead to poorer decision making and judgement.
In the long term, poor sleep can result in other negative impacts on:
- your cardiovascular system, such as higher blood pressure
- your metabolism, such as weight gain
- your immune system.
The good news is that there are a range of strategies you can use to make sure you’re sleeping as well as possible.
Ways to improve your sleep
Practicing good habits to help you get the best night’s sleep is called ‘sleep hygiene’.
It includes things like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, getting some sun exposure to help keep your body clock on track, and making sure your room is dark enough while you’re sleeping.
Sleep hygiene is self-care.
Picking one or two habits to start off with – like skipping wine on a weeknight and putting your phone away 30 mins before your bedtime – can be a good way to start improving your sleep hygiene.
While it can be hard, in the beginning, to put ourselves and our health first, prioritising your sleep can have so many health benefits (including your sporting performance) you’ll thank yourself later.