Alcohol and Insomnia, the Mutual Relationship

insomnia and drinkingIn the well-thought out words of Bill Hicks, “If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.”

To reiterate Hicks’ point, this is the state of living that the average American finds comfort in. The relationship between caffeine and alcohol is basically the backbone of our society. The other backbone of our society is, well, our backbones.

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The huge problem with our gradient of socially acceptable addictions is the unseen problems that arise because of them. An addiction to caffeine may cause you to feel restless at night while lying in bed and trying to fall asleep. An easy fix for this restlessness is to let yourself have a couple drinks before hitting the hay.

We wonder why we have a country that boasts over a 30% population of insomnia sufferers. The answer is in the conventional measures and coping mechanisms when working with our own physical energy, or lack thereof.

Even though some insomniacs don’t struggle with drug-abuse or alcoholism, a shocking number natural treatmentof those with the sleep-depriving mental disorder do. The connection between alcohol and insomnia is that of a mutual relationship. If you are an alcoholic than you are more likely to have insomnia because you are altering your body’s natural chemistry.

One of the major problems of alcohol is its ease of use, and the way it can wedge itself into our daily routine. While some people naturally moderate their drinking habits, others have little to no control over themselves when it comes to alcohol. A few drinks after work can turn into getting more inebriated than bargained for on a Tuesday night. The overlooked victim of these negative drinking patterns is the ability to get a good night’s rest.

While it seems easy to knock yourself out after a couple drinks at the bar, the “deep” sleep you have while drinking is less beneficial than you may think. Once consumed, alcohol creates an imbalance with your natural homeostatic sleep cycle.

Alcohol sends disruptive messages to your brain through triggering a false signal to fall asleep at unnecessary moments. This “false-flag”results in a disruptive, more “shallow” sleep and can follow the nighttime drunk into the morning and continuing day. Once a negative sleeping and drinking pattern is set, the irrational person may be apt to continuing these not-so-intelligent patterns.

You go out with your friends after work and you grab a few drinks. You end staying out too late and drinking more than you planned on. You go home and lay down for a couple hours of disrupted sleep. You wake up groggy and go to work hangover.

You drink caffeine in the form of coffee or an energy drink just to get through the day. You have too much energy after work and decide to burn it off by having a couple drinks with your friends after work. Now its easy to see how this vicious cycle can present itself and become a calcified and negative situation.

If you believe you are an alcoholic it may be time to seek help. Many people realize that it’s easier to quit drinking altogether, than it is to moderate predisposed drinking habits. Insomnia poses a major and unobserved threat to people who decide to quit cold-turkey, or without any sort of crutch. If you are a heavy alcoholic, it can be dangerous to stop drinking altogether.

One of the deadliest withdrawals, is, believe it or not, the withdrawal from alcohol. The intelligent path to take for heavy drinkers that want to quit altogether, is to check yourself into urgent care or a  day at rehab facility.

Keep in mind, when we are talking about  “heavy drinkers”, we mean those that drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, the type of person wakes up first thing in the morning and thinks “Man, I need a drink”.

Urgent care and rehab facilities may offer the ailing alcoholic, life-saving detoxes that will allow them to sober up or “dry out” in a decently healthy manner. In really intense cases, the heavy alcoholic who decides to quit drinking cold-turkey can find themselves suffering from a case of Delirium Tremens.

Delirium Tremens is an intense and rare symptom of alcoholic withdrawal that can causes loss of appetite, hallucinations, flu-like symptoms, and insomnia. Most people who recently have quit drinking will find themselves restless after their first couple nights of sobriety, because they are without one of their tried-and-true coping mechanisms.

If you are finding it hard to get a decent night’s sleep after quitting drinking you may find some of the following methods beneficial. Avoid looking at electronics, cell phones, or computer screens an hour or two before laying down to go to bed.

The white and yellow light of the average computer screen can trick your brain into thinking that it is daytime and have an overall disruptive effect on your ability to fall asleep normally. Staying hydrated throughout the day is important to getting a good night’s sleep.

Another tip is to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages less than 6 hours before you fall asleep. If you are working on quitting drinking in order to cope with insomnia, it may be beneficial to also consider curbing your caffeine intake. The use of stimulants in general can be the true enemy of a decent sleep schedule.

Hopefully through reading this article you have become more educated on the negative and tumultuous relationship between alcohol and insomnia. It is important to remember, that insomnia isn’t solely caused by alcoholism, and if you suffer from either it may be worth it to get yourself checked out by a doctor. Sleep tight.

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