The Nightcap Dilemma: How to Enjoy Beer and Wine Without Losing Sleep

Sep 12, 2023

The Sleep-Disrupting Effects of Alcohol

While many people believe that alcohol helps them fall asleep faster, the reality is a bit more complicated. Alcohol may help you doze off initially, but it can disrupt your sleep cycle, preventing you from reaching the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Alcohol also suppresses REM sleep, the stage where dreaming occurs, and can lead to fragmented sleep, causing you to wake up multiple times throughout the night.

Timing is Everything: When to Have Your Last Sip

Just like with coffee, timing plays a crucial role in how alcohol affects your sleep. Consuming alcohol too close to bedtime can lead to poor sleep quality. A good rule of thumb is to stop drinking at least 3 hours before you plan to go to sleep. This gives your body enough time to metabolize the alcohol and minimizes its impact on your sleep.

This is how I can remember it best: The more hours between your last drink and going to bed, the better!

Moderation and Hydration: The Keys to Responsible Drinking

The amount of alcohol you consume also matters. Heavy drinking can exacerbate sleep problems, so moderation is key. Stick to one or two drinks for women and up to two or three for men. Additionally, alcohol can dehydrate you, which can further disrupt sleep. Make sure to drink plenty of water alongside your beer or wine to stay hydrated.

Choose Your Drinks Wisely

Not all alcoholic beverages are created equal when it comes to sleep disruption. Beer, for instance, contains fewer congeners—substances produced during fermentation—than wine, making it slightly less disruptive to sleep. However, beer often has a higher volume, which can lead to consuming more alcohol overall. Wine, particularly red wine, contains antioxidants but also has higher sugar content, which can affect sleep. Choose wisely based on your own sensitivities and preferences.

Here's the ultimate list on how to handle it. The longer the evening, the better you stick to Light Beer or White Wine. 🍺

  1. Light Beer: Lower in alcohol content and fewer congeners.
  2. White Wine: Generally lower in alcohol content than red wine and contains fewer congeners.
  3. Organic Red Wine: Contains antioxidants but usually has fewer additives and sulfites than non-organic red wine.
  4. Regular Red Wine: Contains antioxidants but can be higher in alcohol content and sugar.
  5. Regular Beer: Higher in volume, which can lead to consuming more alcohol overall.
  6. Champagne: The bubbles can speed up the absorption of alcohol, affecting sleep more quickly.
  7. Mixed Drinks with Clear Liquors (e.g., vodka, gin): Clear liquors have fewer congeners but mixed drinks often contain sugary or caffeinated mixers.
  8. Mixed Drinks with Dark Liquors (e.g., whiskey, rum): Dark liquors contain more congeners, which can worsen hangovers and disrupt sleep.
  9. Cocktails with Energy Drinks: The caffeine in energy drinks can counteract the sedative effects of alcohol, severely disrupting sleep.



While enjoying a glass of beer or wine can be one of life's simple pleasures, it's important to be mindful of how it can affect your sleep. By understanding the sleep-disrupting effects of alcohol and making a few simple adjustments to your drinking habits, you can continue to enjoy your favorite beverages without sacrificing a good night's sleep.

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