Don’t give up yet! Here’s why Dry January is the best thing you can do for your sleep health

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After an indulgent festive season, Dry January could be your ticket to getting a better night’s sleep.

With the new year in full swing once again, many of us are looking ahead to our goals for 2019, with living a healthier lifestyle at the top of most people’s list. It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to our health resolutions, but there is a way that you can reap the benefits of a healthier sleep with just one tiny tweak - less alcohol.

According to Neil Robinson, Chief Sleep Officer at Sealy UK, Dry January can result in a better diet and weight loss but it can also have a hugely positive effect on your sleeping pattern and energy levels – particularly after drinking more than usual in December.

Drinking alcohol has a direct impact on our sleep, which many people don’t even realise. Even if it’s just one or two drinks, it can take a massive toll on your sleep health and subsequently your overall physical and mental health too.

Here are the key ways that reducing your alcohol intake can be the best thing you can do for your sleep health in 2019:

* It messes up your body clock

Alcohol can negatively affect your body’s natural circadian rhythm, the internal body clock which dictates your body’s functioning day-to-day. Alcohol consumption can reduce your biological clock’s ability to synchronise your daily activities to light and can disrupt your natural activity patterns, which can have a knock-on your metabolism, cognitive function and mood for days afterwards. Reducing your alcohol consumption will make it much more likely that your natural circadian rhythms will work as they should.

* You won’t sleep as deeply

It’s commonly thought that drinking alcohol can help you get to sleep, and whilst it’s true that alcohol can help reduce sleep onset latency – the time it takes you to get to sleep – it has a much more detrimental effect for the rest of the night. In the first half of the night, as your body is metabolising the alcohol in your system, you will be thrown into a deep sleep far quicker than usual meaning you miss out on your initial REM stage of sleep. Although you may think this sounds positive, REM is a vital part of your sleep structure as it helps with processing emotion and memory. As the alcohol wears off in the second half of the night, so too does its sedative effects. This leaves you in a lighter, less restful sleep stage, and ultimately will lead to an earlier waking time and make it more difficult to get back to sleep.

* It can make you dehydrated

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it acts on the kidneys to make you urinate much more fluid than you take in. On average, this means you will lose 100ml more fluid than you put in to your body. Going to bed even slightly dehydrated can lead to a disruptive snoring due to a drier mouth and nasal passages, and can even lead to painful nocturnal leg cramps. Alternating alcoholic drinks with water can help to balance out these effects and help limit the number of units you consume, setting you up for a much more restful night as a result.

*It will wake you up in the night

The closer you consume alcohol to your bedtime, the bigger the impact it will have on your sleep. A less restful night’s sleep, combined with the diuretic effect of alcohol and its impact on your breathing, can leave you feeling tired and sluggish the morning after. Leaving at least 2-3 hours between your last drink and your bedtime will give your body time to process the alcohol you’ve already consumed and result in a much more peaceful night.

For more information, visit www.sealy.co.uk.