Ask Gerda: Does Alcohol Disrupt Sleep?

Ask Gerda: Does Alcohol Disrupt Sleep?

Ask Gerda: Does Alcohol Disrupt Sleep?

Gerda Endemann

Gerda Endemann, our senior director of science and research, has a BS in nutrition from UC Berkeley, a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from MIT, and a passion for cherry-picking from our wellness shop. She spends a lot of her time interpreting research—established and emerging. And our wellness routines thank her for this. (Yours will, too. Send us your own questions for Gerda: [email protected].)

Dear goop, My husband complains about waking up at night, and he doesn’t feel refreshed in the morning. I’ve told him that alcohol could be the reason, but he thinks I’m being puritanical and insists that alcohol makes you sleepy. Who’s right? —Amanda K.

Hi, Amanda. You are. But your husband’s response isn’t unique. The last thing people want to hear is that in order to sleep soundly through the night, they need to drink less alcohol. Of course, there are some people who can drink coffee as a nightcap, and there are people who handle alcohol just fine. Which makes it particularly irritating for those of us who are not so fortunate. For many of us, a couple of glasses of wine is relaxing and soporific in the short term but a disaster for our sleep quality for the second half of the night.

I didn’t know how common this problem was until I looked at the research. It’s been known since the ’60s that alcohol suppresses REM sleep. Across ages and races, sleep studies have shown that alcohol can be a problem for anyone. One way that alcohol can cause disrupted sleep is by inducing sleep apnea. Alcohol can relax the throat muscles, closing the throat so that air can’t get to the lungs until you wake up and gasp for air. Does your husband snore and snort and gasp?

Here’s a solution: Kin Euphorics makes nonalcoholic spirits that you can sip straight up or use in mocktails with recipes created by chef Seamus Mullen. For a relaxing nightcap, there’s Kin Euphorics Dream Light, a nonalcoholic blend of plant extracts, amino acids, and vitamins, with a tiny bit of melatonin. It won’t interfere with sleep at all.

If you’re drinking for a bit of a buzz, you may like Kin Euphorics High Rhode. It contains nootropics—compounds that help the brain function—including about as much caffeine as a half cup of coffee, blended with herbs and ingredients like GABA and L-theanine to support a calm mood. High Rhode also comes as a premixed sparkling cocktail called Kin Spritz. I love the sophisticated yet very drinkable slightly bitter flavor of this bubbly.

  1. Kin Euphorics DREAM LIGHT
    Kin Euphorics DREAM LIGHT goop, $39
  2. Kin Euphorics HIGH RHODE
    Kin Euphorics HIGH RHODE goop, $39
  3. Kin Euphorics KIN SPRITZ
    Kin Euphorics KIN SPRITZ goop, $27

Of course, there are reasons other than alcohol for less-than-satisfying sleep. Magnesium supplements can help people with occasional sleeplessness, and they have other benefits. Regularity Relief contains magnesium to support both gentle elimination and sleep.*

If quieting the mind is what’s needed at night, meditation builds that skill. Try one of the guided meditations our team has recorded. And this cushion set can define a beautiful meditation space for your practice.

    The Nue Co. REGULARITY RELIEF goop, $40
    Samaya MEDITATION PILLOW SET goop, $259

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.