Drinking and sleeping during the festive months. Some top tips!

‘Tis indeed the season to be jolly for many of us. And this means mulled wine, an extra glass of bubbles, a work event or two during the week, visiting family and friends over Christmas and of course ringing in the new year with yes – of course – yet another alcoholic drink!

Now whilst I’ve written before about the improved number & quality of non- and low-alcoholic drinks options, most of us still like to enjoy a glass or two of the alcoholic stuff, especially at this time of year. And alcohol is a wonderful sedative. The advantage is that it will send you to sleep. However, when it comes to your sleep that’s just about the only advantage! Disadvantages include:

- Each glass of alcohol takes circa 1.5 hours to leave your bloodstream. So, you can easily be over the legal limit to drive the morning after the night before,

- Cognitive performance has been shown to suffer from drinking alcohol up to 24 hours later,

- Drinking alcohol is an ‘empty calorie source’ – no nutritional value yet plenty of calories added!

- The oxidation of alcohol delays fat oxidation, so for those trying to lose weight this has the exact opposite effect.

- Alcohol consumption, especially late at night, often leads to mindless eating – a midnight kebab anyone?

In fact, the sedative effects of alcohol do wear off throughout the night. So, it’s not even helping you sleep after a while!!!

So, what tactics can be employed to optimise your sleep during this period.

#1 The first tip is clearly obvious – drink less alcohol! Multiple studies show how a reduction in alcohol intake can reduce your risk of a stroke and a heart attack. Replacing the habit of alcohol in the evening can help greatly e.g. sample some non/low alcohol beer, wine, spirits or mocktails. Or try tonic water, herbal teas or sparkling water etc.

#2 When you have a glass or two of wine, have at least the same amount of water. This ‘fills you up’ and also reduces the risk of a hangover the next day. Trust me, I’ve been gathering data on this for decades! So, take more water with it – literally! Especially when you are eating a meal too, it’s a simple strategy.

#3 Be grown up about this. People who are most successful at quitting a habit avoid temptation! So, if you are trying to reduce alcohol consumption, don’t agree to a whole evening in the pub! Breakfast or lunch are a perfectly good time to meet.

Season’s greetings to you all! See you in 2024

Source: Els van der Helm on Linked In