Is there anything worse than waking up too early after a huge night on the turps?
You’re out till 3am, finally hit the sack and conk out at 4am but despite all this, you’re wide awake at 8am.
every. single. toiiiiiime
You betcha, no matter how exhausted you feel and how deliciously warm your bed is, you won’t be able to get back to sleep. There’s literally no reason for your useless, hungover potato brain to be awake. Yet here we are, every Satdee morning.
If this is you, you’ll be relieved to know you’re not alone. And there’s science behind this phucked up phenomenon.
Let’s break it down, Renata Bliss style.
Research shows that a nightcap (that is, one drink) actually helps you get to sleep faster. But any more than two drinks before bed will knock about your sleeping patterns and result in an early morning wake up. This 2013 paper similarly points out that alcohol does make you fall asleep quicker and that during the first half of the night, it’ll increase slow-wave sleep; the kind that gets rid of that tired feeling.
But it’s the second half of the night is the bit that screws you. This is when people start experiencing a phenomenon called the “rebound effect“.
In layman’s terms, alcohol is a mind-altering substance. You drink it, it initially increases the amount of sleep-inducing chemicals in your body, but after it’s been in your system long enough, your body metabolises it. Once metabolised, it starts kicking in reverse; it fights against the sleepy chemicals and thus keeps you wide awake.
Sleep researchers Dr. Timothy Roehrs and Dr. Thomas Roth explain this more eloquently in a paper analysing alcohol and sleep.
In their words, “certain physiological variables… change in the opposite direction to the changes induced by alcohol and even exceed normal levels once alcohol is eliminated from the body.”
So instead of just being awake, you’re super awake. Annoyingly-alert awake.
There’s even more at play here. When you’re pissed as a fart, you’re incapable of dreaming. That’s ’cause REM, the part of your sleep cycle where the dreams happen, is dramatically reduced after drinking alcohol. Less dreams means more feeling like a sack’o’shit in the morning.
So there you have it. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t sleep in after a night out – rest easy knowing you’ll sleep like a little grubby bebe the next night.