Sleep, Alcohol and Caffeine – Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket
Interrupted and disturbed sleep can have a huge impact upon your well-being and ability to function in the daytime. A few poor nights sleep can grow into an ongoing pattern of struggling to get, or stay, asleep and then feeling tired, foggy and anxious during the day. It can detrimentally impact upon both your physical and mental health.
It may be that your anxiety has led to poor sleep as you overthink and worry at night and struggle to switch off. Or it may be that you have been battling with your sleep and that has led to feeling exhausted, stressed and anxious. You may now find yourself feeling anxious during the evening as bedtime approaches and fearful of not getting enough sleep.
No matter what you are currently struggling with, checking in on how you sleep is always important because of how it can exacerbate unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This can include your sleep quality and quantity and your habits and routines about switching off and unwinding before you go to bed.
You may have tried all sorts of things to try and get enough sleep, and if the usual sleep hygiene things aren’t cutting it then you can find yourself feeling pretty low and pretty desperate.
Many people turn to alcohol and having a drink or two in the evening to try and help them to mentally calm down and physically relax enough for sleep. And if your sleep is poor, you may also be relying on caffeine to keep you functioning and productive through the day.
Caffeine, Alcohol and Sleep
It’s very easy to fall into a cycle of self medicating with alcohol and caffeine to try and deal and cope with sleep issues. Caffeine perks you up so you can get stuff done and feel more wakeful during the day, and the alcohol helps you switch off so you can get to sleep at night. Yet overdo the caffeine and you can feel anxious, irritable and jittery. And too much alcohol can make you feel groggy the next day.
It’s well established that that alcohol impacts upon the quality of your sleep and can lead to increased waking in the night. The next day you can find yourself struggling to function, make decisions and to think. Caffeine is linked to problems getting enough sleep, either from struggling to fall asleep or through a reduction in the total amount of sleep you get. Many studies have described the effects of either alcohol or caffeine in isolation, and a recent study (Song and Walker, 2023) has now studied the combined effects of consuming both substances in a real world setting.
They found that within individuals over time, from one night to the next, increases in daily caffeine consumption are significantly associated with reductions in subsequent nightly sleep quantity. However, individuals did not perceive any subjective reduction in sleep quantity and quality. This false perception may be because we learn to regulate our caffeine consumption to an amount that we perceive does not alter sleep quality. They also found that increasing evening to evening consumption of alcohol negatively impacted sleep quality (rather than quantity) and sleep was fragmented by night time awakening.
They also studied the interaction between caffeine and alcohol consumption and found that alcohol consumption at night partially offsets caffeine’s otherwise negative impact on sleep
duration. The sedative effect of alcohol can moderate the stimulant effects of caffeine and may explain how you can fall into the habit of self medicating with alcohol in the evening to over ride the effects of your daytime caffeine intake (and caffeine in the day to help you cope with sleep of a poorer quality).
Of course, both caffeine and alcohol both can have impacts upon your mental and physical health, can lead to you being dependent upon them and they also deny you the opportunity to learn how to handle your thoughts, feelings and sleep naturally. In this cycle of self medication, if you forgo alcohol then the caffeine can lead to wakefulness at night when you want to be asleep. And if you forgo coffee then you struggle during the day and may find your evening alcohol reduces your sleep quality. Due to the nature of substances, you may find that over time you need more just to get the same results and that your caffeine and alcohol consumption goes up. You can reach a stage where you have to rely on substances in order to function in your life.
I’ve covered more about sleep disorders and insomnia in these articles:
Sleep disturbance, as well as excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, can negatively affect your physical and psychological health. However, hypnotherapy can be very effective for helping you with improving your sleep (and reducing substance dependence). You can once again start to get the sleep quality and quantity that you need and you will then feel able to orchestrate and manage your own thoughts and feelings. You can sleep better and feel better as you get on with feeling more refreshed every morning, more productive during your day and more relaxed in the evening.
To your health and happiness,
Award Winning Hypnotherapist in Ely & Newmarket
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Reference: Song, F. and Walker, M.P., 2023. Sleep, alcohol, and caffeine in financial traders. Plos one, 18(11), p.e0291675.