It’s early hours on a Saturday, and you’ve returned from a night out, so it’s time to catch up on some sleep. Nothing compares to the feeling of being reunited with your bed after a night of drinking.
To your shock, you wake up and realise that it’s 7:00am. How can this be? You’ve been out all night so your body should be tired. Well, it turns out that drinking can actually mess up your sleep routine.
“Alcohol introduces toxins into the body, which can cause short- and long-term damage,” explains John Mansour, pharmacist and founder of B4, a vitamin supplement designed to help combat hangovers.
There are actually a few reasons why your body wakes you up earlier than you’d want after going out-out. The first and most simplified reason is that your sleep routine gets ruined.
“You have two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM),” Mansour tells Shape.com.
Your body responds to diluting toxins by splitting them down and trying to get them to leave your body as soon as possible. However, when you’re drinking for an extended period of time your body won’t be able to remove the toxins quickly or easily.
After you drink, you fall asleep a lot quicker and go into a deep sleep faster, which is why it feels so good to fall asleep after a night out.
However, changes to your sleep cycles can destroy the natural transition between REM and NREM meaning you don’t get as much REM sleep.
A lighter sleep is a REM sleep which puts you into a dreaming state and these short stints are mixed with NERM sleep, a deeper sleep that refreshes the mind and body whilst repairing your muscles. We experience both cycles during the night.
After a night of drinking, you’re more likely to experience several disruptions in your sleep due to your body’s effort to process the alcohol when you’re sleeping.
“For one, a chemical process called glutamine rebound can stimulate your body and wake you up,” Mansour adds.
Glutamine is the biggest amino acid in the body and helps with several bodily functions, such as intestinal health, immune function, and stress management.
“When you drink, your body stops producing glutamine but doesn’t stop using it. When the alcohol is cleared, your body realises it’s lacking glutamine in a major way, and this causes your body to quickly produce and distribute glutamine through the body to make up for the imbalance,” he explains.
This glutamine rush has a stimulatory effect that can wake you up.