A common reward for moms is to stay up late for “me time” with a glass of wine. What if you were to focus on a powerful habit that will make all the other habits and upgrades you want to experience easier by making you feel less anxious and depressed, which reduces the desire to overindulge. I’m talking about sleep!
Having a regular sleep schedule where you can get quality sleep each night will also give you more self-control when it comes to overindulging. Sleep is one of the most important cornerstones of good health that is overlooked by many.
Also, we all know that when we feel tired, we are more prone to just give in to our substance of choice.
Getting a good night’s sleep gives us enough energy to get through the day, make good decisions, and have good focus and it also helps regulate our moods. The events of the day are processed and stored in your memory during sleep. Deep REM sleep is especially important since this is where it all happens. Drinking alcohol lessens the amount of REM sleep you get and inhibits the process of storing memories.
There have been studies done that show a lack of REM sleep can shorten your life. Think of sleep as a way to clean out the toxins in your brain that have accumulated during the day to give your brain a fresh restart for the next day.
On the nights I would drink, I would always awaken at 2 or 3 am, feeling full of anxiety, and felt like adrenaline was pumping through my veins. That is because it was! My body was busy working hard to detox the alcohol from my body and stress chemicals were swirling around, keeping me wide awake and filling my mental state with even more worry and shame about what I did the night before.
Some nights it was so bad I was unable to fall back asleep and I always felt exhausted and depressed the next day. My anxiety was at an all-time high for days after a drinking binge.
How many nights did I lay in bed thinking about how much I drank the night before, saying to myself “I am never going to do this again” and how many more times did I let it happen?
I want to share a huge a-ha moment I had. This is something that I was completely unaware of regarding the connection between alcohol and sleep. I had a history of chronic insomnia since I was a teenager. I had trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up early in the morning. It would take me 2 – 3 hours some nights just to fall asleep and then I would lie awake in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling! Most nights I was lucky if I got 3 – 4 hours of sleep, but even that was all fragmented. I was extremely fatigued during the day because of my poor sleep.
Sleep is SO important and is the foundation of good health and well-being! Many take it for granted and feel like they are ahead of the game in life if they can function on less sleep.
Not me. I was truly suffering due to chronic sleep deprivation. In my 30s, I finally sought professional help. I had a sleep study done and nothing was found. I was told by the sleep specialist that I will probably “just always be a bad sleeper”. What kind of a diagnosis was that?!
I went to weeks of cognitive-behavioral sleep therapy and tried numerous sleep medications, which I was hesitant to be on in the long term. Some of the medications helped for a very short time, but I quickly realized that it was not a sustainable option for me.
Guess what the doctors never really asked me or dug into? How much alcohol I drank! Well, he did, but my answer was “I only drink on the weekends”. I didn’t elaborate and tell him I “heavily binge drink on the weekends”. Who is honest with their doctor when asked about their drinking habits?
Yes, I always knew that drinking alcohol will set you up for a poor night’s sleep. But I was still sleeping like garbage on the nights I wasn’t drinking! So I figured my drinking habit had nothing to do with my sleep issue.
When I decided to make my lifestyle shift in my 40s to no longer drink alcohol because I was so sick of feeling sick and tired, something amazing happened. A few weeks after I kicked the habit, I STARTED TO SLEEP BETTER! Once I educated myself in this area, I learned that alcohol could stay in your system for 7 – 10 days until it is completely gone, meaning your brain is not brought back into normal homeostasis due to its lingering effects.
Yes, I usually didn’t drink Monday – Thursday and did give myself a break, but I never gave myself a long enough break to realize how much having alcohol in my life was affecting my overall sleep. The numerous doctors I had seen over the years never mentioned that long-term, consistent alcohol use could be the case and that it could be contributing to my chronic insomnia.
Now my sleep is not perfect, but I can say it is at least 90% better than it was when I was a drinker. I feel that the quality of my sleep has improved, and I have a lot more energy during the day. I am not missing out on that deep REM sleep that is so crucial to our brain’s healing and memory storage while we sleep. It has been a total life changer for me!
What would your health and wellbeing look like if you made sleep more of a priority?