How Alcohol Changes Your Sleep

If you choose to drink, adjusting your timing could help prevent sleep disruption.

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Every weekday, we make sense of the confusing world of wellness by analyzing the headlines, simplifying the latest research, and offering quick tips designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Number of the week

  • How alcohol changes your sleep

  • The addictive gene

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Number of the Week: 2.5 

That’s the number of servings of fruits or vegetables per day that can help reduce your risk of stroke by nearly 20 percent and risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 15 percent.

To determine the minimum effective dose, scientists reviewed 95 studies and assessed roughly 47,000 cases of stroke and 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease. If you want the most health protection possible, research suggests eating up to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

How Alcohol Changes Your Sleep

If you plan on having a few drinks this weekend, here’s something to keep in mind: New research suggests that just a few drinks can harm your sleep — but that when you consume alcohol might determine how much disruption it causes. 

Scientists analyzed recreational drinkers who had about 9 to 12 drinks per week and then put them through a 2-week experiment. For three nights, participants had three drinks about one hour before bed, or they were given a placebo (a mixer with no alcohol). 

Those who drank alcohol spent less time in REM sleep, had lower sleep quality, and less deep sleep than those taking the placebo. Interestingly, the impact of alcohol in the system had different effects for the three nights. The first night of drinking harmed sleep quality the most. At the same time, the repeated nights of drinking led to worsening REM sleep. In other words, consistent drinking wears your body down over time, but even one night can also disrupt sleep quality. 

The catch? Alcohol’s influence on your sleep partially depends on how closely you drink to your bedtime. Prior research suggests that it takes about 1 hour for your body to metabolize one drink. And for each additional drink, you’ll need an extra hour. So, if you have a few drinks, the earlier you have them in the night, the less likely they are to harm your sleep. 

The Addictive Gene

Speaking of drinking…

Recent research found that 3,823 different genes are linked to smoking and drinking behaviors, which means some people are more prone to addiction. 

The study analyzed more than 3 million people to assess links between genetic traits and 

More research is needed, but this data can help identify at-risk individuals and create new prevention strategies. Thirty-nine of the traits were linked with the age at which individuals started smoking, 243 with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and 849 with the number of alcoholic drinks consumed per week.

And it’s not just addictive behaviors. Two genetic variants influence how your body metabolizes alcohol. In other words, your genetics might make it even easier for booze to bamboozle your body. These genetic variants affect your body in different ways. One breaks down alcohol faster, which means you're hit harder by the toxins in alcohol, while the other keeps the toxins in your body longer. 

If you want to know if you're more at-risk or have trouble metabolizing alcohol, you can visit your doctor or do simple tests that give you insights into genes. 

Our preferred testing system is InsideTracker, which combines blood, DNA, and other data you provide to offer a holistic view of your health and offer personalized recommendations. As a member of the village, you get 20% OFF InsiderTracker.

If you choose to drink, remember that — despite some outdated myths — alcohol (yup, even red wine) is not linked to positive health outcomes. So it’s best to limit yourself to — at most — just a few drinks per week.

And that’s it for this week! Thanks for being a part of the positive corner of the internet, and we hope you all have a fantastic weekend.

-Arnold, Adam, and Daniel

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell