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No, Wine Isn’t Helping You Sleep—Here’s Why

Two glasses of red wine sit on a table in front of a fireplace.

You’ve finished work, eaten dinner, and the dishes are done. Now, it’s time for your nightcap to help you get to sleep. But we’ve got some bad news for you. Wine isn’t helping you sleep.

Wine helps you fall asleep, but according to experts, throughout the night your sleep quality will deteriorate.

Well+Good spoke with Kristen Willeumier, PhD, a neuroscientist, who explained that even one glass can disturb your sleep. Alcohol does work as a sedative when your blood alcohol level is at its highest early in the evening. However, as your body metabolizes it throughout the night, your sleep issues arise.

Willeumier said when you first fall asleep based on the sedative nature of the drink, you go straight into NREM or non-rapid eye movement, a deep stage of sleep. However, going quickly into this phase limits the time you’re in REM or rapid eye movement sleep. REM sleep is a must as according to Willeumier it helps support brain function, emotional regulation, and memory. Once this phase switching begins, you’ll likely start tossing and turning and experience a disrupted sleep pattern.

So what if you just don’t want to give up your nightly drink? There are a few steps you can take. First, limit your intake to a glass or two and not every night, and when you do drink, try to finish at least four hours before bedtime.

If you’ve felt like your sleep health is suffering, your nightly glass of wine might (unfortunately) be why.

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