LEADERS: Don’t let your night cap fool you into a good night’s sleep

alcohol and sleep

Could a sober lifestyle be the answer to better sleep and enhanced workplace performance?  Understanding how alcohol consumption is interfering with your sleep cycles is critical to achieving peak performance.

Sleep is vital for our overall health and wellbeing; it allows our bodies to rest, repair and function at our best. A good night’s sleep can also help to improve our mood, concentration, and memory.

For those who are moderate to heavy drinkers or for the sober-curious individuals out there, you may be wondering, how does alcohol affect sleep? Alcohol consumption can interfere with our sleep cycles, causing fragmented sleep patterns. While you may initially feel more relaxed and ‘sleepy’ when you drink alcohol, it is, in fact, known to prevent us from achieving deep REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Upon consuming alcohol, we tend to sleep restlessly, waking up often during the night and feeling groggy and exhausted in the morning – less than ideal when you have a busy day of work ahead.

Alcohol and Sleep: The Facts You Need to Know

Think you have no trouble sleeping after drinks with friends or colleagues? There’s more to a good night’s sleep than the amount of time you spend in bed. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity. According to the Sleep Foundation, even small amounts of alcohol can reduce sleep quality by 9.3%. Moderate amounts of alcohol (two servings per day for men or one serving per day for women) has been seen to decrease sleep quality by up to 24% – a staggering statistic if you’re used to your daily after-hours drink.

When exposed to alcohol, the brain produces more adenosine, a neurotransmitter that slows down nerve activity and makes you feel sleepy. But here’s the kicker – alcohol consumption also prevents you from getting the restful rapid eye movement sleep (REM) needed to support learning and memory. A typical person should have six to seven REM sleep cycles per night. If you’ve been drinking heavily, you may only experience one or two hours of REM sleep because alcohol disrupts your sleep cycles. So while you may feel like you’re getting a good night’s sleep after drinking, your body isn’t actually getting the rest it needs.

You may have also noticed that you have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom more often than usual. That’s because alcohol speeds up your digestive system, giving it less time to absorb liquid. Since alcohol is a diuretic, it can also cause you to sweat more and become dehydrated which, in turn, causes you to wake up from thirst. Alcohol makes you more prone to snoring, but it also relaxes the muscles in your body, which can lead to disruptions in your breathing. This can cause you to wake up gasping for air or even stop breathing altogether, a condition called sleep apnoea.

All of these factors add up to a less than ideal night’s sleep, which can have major consequences on your health, and make for a difficult day in the office.

How Sleep Deprivation Can Impact Your Career

We’ve established that alcohol affects sleep negatively, and quality sleep is, undoubtedly, a crucial part of our working lives.

When you’re tired, you find concentrating more difficult, and your reactions are slower, which means you certainly won’t be bringing your A-game to meetings. You may also feel grumpy and emotional, which is not conducive to building productive working relationships and leading with confidence and stability. A sleep-deprived brain is easily triggered, and you want to be able to keep your cool in stressful or challenging situations at work. You’re also more likely to forget things and make mistakes if you’re running on empty, which means your work will suffer, and you may even damage your reputation.

Arriving at the office feeling even slightly irritable and edgy can negatively impact the morale of those around you. If you’re sleep-deprived, it can also make it difficult to be a team player. You may have less patience for others, and you’re more likely to take out your frustration on those around you.

Getting your sleep ratio balanced is one of the benefits of a sober lifestyle. Not only will you feel more energetic and alert, but you’ll also find it easier to relate to and connect with those around you. So, if you’re finding yourself stuck on the career ladder, you may need to re-look that post-work whiskey (or three) you rely on to unwind after a heavy day.

Get Your Sleep Quality Back on Track

If you’re having trouble sleeping well, it may be time to assess your sleep hygiene. This means taking a hard look at your sleep habits and routines and taking actionable steps towards adopting a sober lifestyle so that you can achieve quality sleep consistently.

How quickly will you feel the benefits of quitting drinking? If you’ve been drinking moderately, you may notice better sleep within a few days to a couple of weeks. If you’ve been drinking heavily, it may take a little longer to return to normal sleep patterns but there is evidence to show that your sleep will improve with decisive action to eliminate alcohol from your life.

The reality is that quality sleep equals quality work. Giving yourself the chance to enjoy the benefits of a sober lifestyle is like getting an overnight promotion. You’ll have more energy, focus, and drive, and you’ll quickly see the impact on your career and personal life.

Are you a business leader who feels you aren’t meeting your potential – could alcohol be a contributing factor? Lead Sober can help you to maximize your leadership potential with actionable steps toward building a high-performance, sober lifestyle. 

Take the first step today and contact us to learn more about how we can help you to harness the benefits of quitting drinking and step into your leadership role with a good night’s sleep behind you.