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Booze for Snooze

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There was a time in the not-so-distant past when even doctors recommended that those who had difficulty falling asleep simply have a little alcoholic drink right before bed. That is no longer recommended by any thinking person whether they are a doctor or not.

Scientists and researchers have discovered a lot about sleep in the last few years, and now there is universal agreement that booze is not the answer for snooze.

It is true that an alcoholic drink before bedtime can cause a person to fall asleep easier, but falling asleep is not the only part of sleep. There are two sleep phases:

(1) Slow wave sleep (SWS) produces the fewest brain waves, and this phase offers the deepest and most restful sleep.

(2) Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is associated with increased brain waves, dreaming, lighter sleep, and waking up in the night.

Those who drink alcohol within one hour of going to bed spend more time in REM sleep than they do in SWS sleep. So while you may go to sleep easier, you will wake up more often during the night, and your sleep will not be as restful or as restorative.

Aging affects sleep. The older we get, the less time we spend in SWS sleep and the more time we spend in REM sleep. People who are 65 or over may wake as many as 20 times during the night. So older people especially are prone to believing that a little glass of wine before bedtime is an answer to the problem, when in fact it is actually interfering with their sleep patterns.

The bottom line here is, skip the booze; it won't help you snooze. Read something boring, listen to some elevator music, or just sit quietly for awhile before you go to bed.

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