Alcohol affects sleep for women, study finds

February 16, 2011 12:49:40 PM PST
Many people struggle to fall asleep each night leaving them exhausted and caught in a vicious cycle. The intake of alcoholic beverages before bed is a known sleep disruptor, but a new study from the Journal of Alcoholism shows that it may affect women more than men.

A perfect scenario of alcohol-induced sleep disruption is what Joan Apellaniz has been experiencing for quite some time.

"I might have gone to sleep for an hour, but then woke up with a headache or because of my stomach and was uncomfortable. I wasn't feeling well and couldn't go back to sleep," says Joan.

At first, Joan blamed stress from her job as the reason behind her sleepless nights but then realized that alcohol had also been a common denominator.

The women that participated in the study slept twenty minutes less and woke up frequently during the rest of the time.

"This is interesting and provocative in a way, as we have so much research that says men and women are affected by alcohol before sleep, but this is the first one that says men aren't affected as much," Shelby Harris, Psy.D. said.

Although alcohol may have an affect on women's sleeping habits, a drink in the evening is tolerable as long as the timing is right.

Dr. Harris suggests leaving a three hour gap between your last glass of wine and your expected bedtime.

However, there are some studies that show even three beers within six hours of bedtime can negatively impact sleep.

Additionally, avoiding stimulants like ginseng and caffeine, keeping pets out of the bedroom, and exercising before bed may contribute to better sleeping habits.

There is one part of the alcohol study that has left some people with doubts regarding its validity.

The participants knew whether or not they were drinking alcohol which could mean that psychological factors played a role in the findings.