The Effects of Alcohol on Sleep
Many people usually associate alcohol with sleep and sleepiness. However, the effects of alcohol on sleep are mostly negative ones, and these two things should not be interrelated at all. In order to understand how these two things are related, one must explore the depths of two different topics: alcohol and sleep. With this knowledge, one can begin to understand how alcohol and sleep are related and what effects alcohol has on sleep.
Sleep is a very active process, just like consciousness. Sleep is controlled largely by nerve centers in the lower brain stem, where the base of the brain joins the spinal cord. It is here where certain nerve cells produce chemicals, which control and regulate the two alternating states of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM) and Slow Wave Sleep (SWS). REM sleep is sleep where the eyes move very rapidly. This type of sleep occurs periodically (about every 90 minutes), and occupies about 25% of sleep time. The chemical that is produced that controls REM sleep is norepinephrine, which helps regulate REM sleep and facilitates arousal in sleep. SWS sleep is a more deep, restful sleep, and is called this because the brain waves move very slowly. This sleep occurs throughout 70% of a person’s sleeping time. SWS sleep is usually associated with dreaming. Serotonin is the chemical messenger associated with sleep onset and with the regulation of SWS. The exact roles and interactions of these and other chemical messengers in orchestrating sleep patterns are not known. Significantly, however, alcohol consumption affects the function of these and other chemical messengers that appear to influence sleep.
The average adult sleeps 7.5 to 8 hours every night. Although the function of sleep is unknown, abundant evidence demonstrates that lack of sleep can have serious consequences, including increased risk of depressive disorders, impaired breathing, and heart disease. In addition, excessive daytime sleepiness resulting from sleep disturbance is associated with memory deficits, impaired social and occupational function, and car crashes.
Alcohol is a common depressant drug. It slows the brain's activities and the activity of the spinal cord. Since alcohol affects the brain it has the potential to be abused. Alcohol rapidly enters the bloodstream and circulates to various parts of the body in a few minutes. Alcohol comes in different varieties. Beer and ale (4-7% alcohol), wine and champagne (9-14%), and hard liquor (40-50%) are the most common kinds of alcohol. Alcohol causes many side effects in anyone who uses it, such as: dullness of sensation, lowered sensory motor skills, lowered reactive or reflexive motor responses, impaired thought processes, impaired memory, impaired judgment, sleep or sleeplessness, and in extreme cases can cause coma and death. Alcohol can also cause people to behave strangely and causes behaviors such as aggression, sexual openness, lying, and excessive talking. ...