Why Do I Wake Up Early After Drinking?

why do i wake up early after drinking

Getting a decent night’s sleep is important to keep you feeling energetic and refreshed. A number of things can affect how well you are able to sleep, with alcohol being a substance that can seriously interfere with the process. Many people find that having a nightcap before bed can help them fall asleep easier, but if you’re left wondering “why do I wake up early after drinking?” the answer lies in the way your body counteracts the presence of alcohol.

Why Does Alcohol Make You Wake Up Early?

To understand why you wake up early the day after you have been drinking, we must first explain the purpose of sleep in the first place. First and foremost it is a chance for your body to recover both physically and mentally. The lack of body movement allows the cells to efficiently repair themselves, and the brain to organize all the information it has collected since the last sleep.

There are different stages of sleep. Deep sleep is the best stage for recovery and rest, while REM sleep is a lighter, more disturbed stage of sleep. The balance between the stages will have a major impact on how you feel the next day, and this is where alcohol can have an effect.

Another thing to consider is the differences between the first and second half of the time you are asleep for. During the first half of the sleep period your body works to clean out all the toxins and repair your cells, while in the second half it begins to prepare you for waking up and activities for the following day.

The Effects Of Alcohol On Sleep

Alcohol can have varying effects on your ability to sleep, and can actually be beneficial to start off with. Quite often people find having an alcoholic drink before bed will help them fall into a deep sleep far easier. This is a result of the ethanol that acts a sedative. For non alcoholics, one drink is plenty to benefit from this effect, and it can help you achieve a better sleep by reducing the number of times you wake up during the night.

When you go beyond the first drink, though, the negative effects start to come into play, especially when going to sleep drunk. While you may find it even easier to fall asleep, the second half of your rest will be impacted by the need for your body to flush the toxins out.

I used to wonder “why does alcohol stop me sleeping well”, but it soon became clear. You’ll fall into a deep sleep faster, but studies have shown that sleeping after drinking results in a lot less deep sleep and far more REM sleep. This is a less restful state, so will result in you feeling tired and sluggish the next day without having taken full advantage of your time.

There’s also a higher chance that you’ll wake up frequently during the night because of the diuretic effects of alcohol. This means you need to go to the toilet more, you will sweat more, and are left feeling uncomfortably dehydrated and more likely to find it difficult to get back to sleep.

For those that wake up before they need to, there’s another effect that comes into play. Remember how we said that the sleep cycle has two halves. Well, during the first half the body removes as much alcohol from your system as possible in an attempt to maintain your usual pattern of sleep. When you enter the second half of your sleep, though, this process can cause problems. Rather than entering a state of restful deep sleep, the action of removing the alcohol can trigger a rebound effect that simply causes you to wake up instead.

How To Prevent Alcohol From Interfering With Sleep

It’s quite common for people to think a drink before bed is helping them, but it isn’t. The best way to reduce the impact is by not having any alcohol within the hour before you go to sleep. If you have had a few drinks you should try to stop drinking at least four hours before sleeping so the alcohol has a chance to filter out.

Of course, this isn’t always possible, so drinking plenty of water and eating some food should help dilute and absorb some of it so you can have a more restful night.

The Takeaway

Alcohol is a mind and body altering substance, so it’s no surprise that it can have an effect on how well you are able to sleep. Regularly drinking before bed will seriously affect your ability to rest, and leave you feeling tired and sluggish in the long term- even if you feel energetic straight away.

If you’re thinking “Why do I wake up early after drinking”, then the answer is because you have drunk too much alcohol and your body is reacting to how it’s had to try and filter it all out. Try drinking less and not within the hour before you go to bed and you’ll find you start sleeping for decent amounts of time and feel much better as a result.