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The Truth About Alcohol and Sleep

Did you know there was a 67% increase in alcohol sales before lockdown in the UK was imposed, as many prepared for drinking at home? Turning to alcohol to navigate your way through stressful situations is sadly not unusual to ‘loosen up’ or quieten an overwhelmed mind. Many believe that it helps them get to […]

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Did you know there was a 67% increase in alcohol sales before lockdown in the UK was imposed, as many prepared for drinking at home?

Turning to alcohol to navigate your way through stressful situations is sadly not unusual to ‘loosen up’ or quieten an overwhelmed mind. Many believe that it helps them get to sleep or even gives you better sleep – but I’m here to set the record straight, because that is not true.

Alcohol is not your friend when it comes to quality sleep. As neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker explains “alcohol sedates you out of wakefulness, but it does not induce natural sleep – it is akin to a light form of anaesthesia.”

What does Alcohol do to your Sleep?

Because alcohol disrupts your sleep pattern so it is not restorative.  You won’t remember it, but alcohol-induced sleep is littered with brief awakenings, so the next day you feel exhausted.

Alcohol will also suppress your REM (rapid eye movement) or dream sleep.  Chemicals from the alcohol block your brain’s ability to generate REM sleep.  Walker describes this as a “cerebral version of a cardiac arrest” when your pulsating beat of brainwaves are prevented from powering dream sleep.

Going for long periods of time without REM sleep leads to a backlog which can have severe health implications.

Why is REM Sleep Important?

REM sleep is a critical, daily process for healthy minds.  Imagine a metaphorical stress bucket in your mind into which you pile your daily stressors, negative thoughts and worries.  REM sleep is the way in which you empty your stress bucket!

At night, thanks to REM sleep, you re-run emotional events of the day (you may remember this happening as a bizarre dream, you may not) and change them from being an emotional memory to a narrative memory – this is a memory of which you have control.

You’ll be familiar with this process.  Remember that time you had a disagreement with a colleague at work and went home and told your partner or a friend about it.  They said just get over it, but you couldn’t and it was still polluting your thoughts as your head rested on the pillow that night.  REM sleep comes to your rescue in the night, moving that memory from the primitive brain into the intellectual brain. When it’s in the intellectual brain you have control over that memory and can awaken in the morning saying “how did I let that upset me so?”.

When alcohol deprives you of REM sleep, your metaphorical stress bucket doesn’t get emptied.  The more you have in your bucket, the more time you spend in your primitive emotional brain that encourages you to be negative, obsessional and vigilant.

If you’ve suffered with panic attacks or migraines this can indicate that your bucket is overflowing…

How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy help?

A Solution Focused Hypnotherapist will work with you to:

  • Change habits and behaviours associated with alcohol

If you are struggling to stop drinking, or change drinking behaviours, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy will help you find your own personal path to success.  Wherever you focus, you end up.  By spending time in sessions focusing your mind on your goals and how you’re going to get there (not the past or the problem) then that’s where you’ll end up!

  • Empty your stress bucket

Working together, we can reduce the amount that you’re piling into your bucket on a daily basis and enhance the quality of your sleep with a bedtime audio track.  This is reinforced during weekly sessions, using hypnotic trance to replicate the Theta brainwaves of restorative REM sleep, giving the brain the crucial ‘deliberate rest’ time it needs to process thoughts and memories and come up with personal solutions. 

Sound good?

Just imagine waking up after a night’s sleep full of REM full of energy, focus and calmness of mind.  That’s what you can enjoy when alcohol is not disrupting your sleep.

If you are struggling with poor quality sleep due to alcohol, or need support to change your alcohol habits, then please reach out because I can help you with that.

Book a FREE 15 minute ‘Tell Me More’ Call via oakviewhypnotherapy.co.uk or get in touch [email protected] with any questions.

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