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. Unfortunately this study found that even when alcoholics have been sober for weeks to years they may still have persistent sleeping abnormalities. 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.
Another article pointed out that they found patients exhibited an increase in “REM sleep pressure” and this led to more vulnerability to relapse. However this study also noted that if patients remained abstinent for at least 6 months they had less abnormal REM sleep.
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.