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According to studies, the average adult sleeps 7.5 – 8 hours every night. Evidence shows that lack of sleep can have serious health consequences like heart disease and depression. It is also related to lack of memory, car accidents, reduced alertness and overall irritability.

Do you like a nightcap to help you sleep? Sometimes people drink alcohol to help them relax and with the false sense that it will enable them to more easily fall asleep and get a good nights rest. However, more and more studies are proving that although alcohol can initially send you off into a sound slumber, it then disrupts it, waking the individual up way before the healthy 7 -8 hour allotment has been reached. A 1999 poll found 28% of American insomniacs used alcohol to get to sleep even though it creates unhealthy mid-night awakenings.

To say it simply, alcohol interferes with the normal sleep process. It can make you fall asleep more quickly, but you will not get a good nights rest. In the course of the night, an individual usually has 6 – 7 REM cycles of sleep, which is what leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning. However, you’ll wake up feeling tired after a night of drinking because the alcohol only allows 1 -2 REM cycles to take place. Studies also show that if you drink as much as 6 hours before going to bed, you can experience an increased chance of wakefulness during the second half of the night. Even Happy Hour drinks can be detrimental to your sleep pattern. So, if you’re experiencing insomnia, alcohol is not a solution to helping you get a night’s sleep.

Aside from altering normal sleep patterns, alcohol induced sleep can aggravate sleep apnea. Alcohol impairs your breathing pattern when sleeping by relaxing the throat muscles. Even people who normally sleep quietly tend to snore after a night of drinking. Another dangerous side effect is the increased risk of falls and injuries during the night when someone who is intoxicated gets up to use the restroom.

Insomnia and alcoholism can be chronic conditions and are often interrelated. It’s a vicious circle because an individual will drink to help them fall asleep, creating a dependency on alcohol. The sleep deprivation than encourages more cravings of alcohol consumption which in turn disrupts the sleep process. Unfortunately, quitting drinking does not guarantee returning a normal sleep pattern. Of course, the problem was there to begin with, and the withdrawal can also disrupt sleep. In fact, poor sleep and all the uncomfortable and unhealthy side effects are thought to contribute to relapse among many alcoholics.

To avoid getting involved in this crazy pattern, a successful solution is to take alcohol awareness classes online before it starts. They are conveniently available from the comfort of your home and are designed to teach skills to avoid stress and alcohol consumption, both factors in insomnia. They are taught by a licensed, practicing therapist who specializes in working with clients with alcohol or drug dependencies. The class is taken on a computer screen and a therapist can be reached to discuss any questions or concerns during the workweek from 9 – 5 p.m.