Sleep Med Psychophysiol.  2006 Jun;13(1):5-10.

Alcohol and Sleep

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Konkuk University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Alcohol has extensive effects on sleep and daytime sleepiness. Alcohol has a sleep inducing effect and the effect of increased non-REM sleep and suppressed REM sleep during the first half portion of night sleep, but alcohol induces the effect of decreased non-REM sleep and increased light sleep and frequent awakenings and REM rebound during the second half portion of night sleep. Alcohol provokes chronobiological change such as the changes of amplitude or the phase shifts of hormones or core body temperature. The sleep disruption resulting from alcohol drinking may lead to daytime fatigue and sleepiness. The elderly are at particular in the increased risk of alcohol-related sleep disorders because they achieve higher levels of alcohol in the blood and brain than do younger adults after consuming an equivalent dose. Bedtime alcohol consumption among older adults may lead to unsteadiness if walking is attempted during the night, with increased risk of falls and injuries. Continued alcohol use for sleep induction often induces aggravation of insomnia, alcoholism or sleep related breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. Alcohol should not be used as substitution of sleep pill because of the dependence and tolerance for sleep inducing effect, and the sleep disruption produced by alcohol withdrawal.


Alcohol; Sleep
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