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26th Dec 2015

Here’s Why You Always Wake Up At 5 or 6 AM After A Night Of Festive Drinks

Why won’t your body just let you sleep?!


Is it just us, or is it always a night we have just a few drinks without getting tipsy that you wake up early and can’t get back to sleep?

After weeks of partying this December, chances are you could be in need of a deep, restorative sleep – but if you’re having a few drinks at night, you could be working against yourself.

According to Professor Colin Espie, a world sleep expert from the University of Oxford and co-founder of Sleepio, despite alcohol working as a natural sedative- it can also act as a ‘de-arousal’ and keep people in fits of broken sleep patterns.

So why are you waking up at 3am or 5am after a Christmas night out?


Professor Espie explains:

During the first half of the Christmas party night, alcohol may reduce the time taken to fall asleep and can lead to deeper phases of sleep (at least initially) while potentially suppressing other important stages of sleep (such as REM or rapid eye movement sleep).

“However, as the alcohol is metabolised and cleared from the body, there is a ‘rebound’ in these suppressed phases of sleep leading to, for example, increased REM sleep as well as more awakenings and lighter sleep (stage 1).”

“REM is a lighter phase of sleep associated with arousal and mental activity, which is why people often have restless nights, falling in and out of sleep after having alcohol. This increase in REM intensity in the second half of the night may also help explain why we often experience more vivid and bizarre dreams after drinking alcohol.”

So what’s the best way to have your tipple and your sleep too?

Espie reminds us that it’s not as important what you drink, but rather how much alcohol units you actually consume.

The best way to combat your sleep disruption is to have a glass of water alongside any alcohol, try stick to your recommended units of alcohol consumption and be aware that the next night your body hasn’t fully rested. Be sure to switch off any external lights of technology that may keep your brain active and try recuperate with a full eight hours sleep the following night.