Another possible sleep disturber is alcohol. An article review has found they all mention that there are irregular sleeping patterns when one is drinking alcohol[1,2,3,4]. These articles also go on to mention that alcohol abuse is associated with chronic sleep disturbances, more REM sleep than usual and lower slow-wave sleep which may play a role in alcoholic relapse[1,2,3,4].

It was noted that during periods of drinking and withdrawal alcoholics generally experience problems falling asleep and sleep less[2]. Unfortunately this study found that even when alcoholics have been sober for weeks to years they may still have persistent sleeping abnormalities[2]. Sleep apnea was also looked into in this study and it was found that alcoholics suffer from this more than nonalcoholics[2,3]. Interestingly this study goes onto state that sleep problems may actually lead people to develop alcoholic problems and could also increase the risk of relapse among abstinent alcoholics[2].

Another article pointed out that they found patients exhibited an increase in “REM sleep pressure” and this led to more vulnerability to relapse[4]. However this study also noted that if patients remained abstinent for at least 6 months they had less abnormal REM sleep[4].

This last study gives a bit more hope that if one is able to stay sober for longer than six months they may tend to relapse less and have improved sleep[4].

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25307588 Opens in new window
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11584550 Opens in new window
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8116827 Opens in new window
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11543743 Opens in new window