Alcohol helps you sleep
Think a cheeky nightcap will help you nod off? You’re right. Research shows alcohol helps most people get to sleep faster. You’ll also be likely to go straight into a deep sleep. This sounds good on the surface, but it also disturbs your proper sleep patterns. You will miss out on the first stage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. When the effects of the alcohol wear off, you will then enter the lighter REM sleep cycle, which is why you’ll probably wake up after a couple of hours. A good and restorative night’s sleep usually has around seven REM cycles. After drinking, you typically will go into the REM cycle only twice in the night – so that contributes to why you’ll wake up feeling seedy.
A glass of milk helps
Few people wouldn’t have heard that a nice glass of milk, preferably warmed, will have you in the Land of Nod in no time. Until recently, the science seemed to back this up, as milk contains tryptophan, the sleep-inducing amino acid also found in chicken, beef and turkey. However, one researcher found that there wasn’t enough of it in milk to have any effect on sleep. That said, other research shows that psychologically, a pre-bed glass of milk can help you sleep. Why? Because the milk/sleep association was hard wired into us when we were babies. The upshot? If you think it’s going to work it probably will – placebo is a very powerful thing.
Sleeping through the night is best
Conventional wisdom is that a solid eight hours shut eye, give or take, is best. Some researchers seem to think otherwise. One well-known study in the 1990s let volunteers sleep when and as often as they liked for a month, with 14-hour periods of darkness every day. After a while, they found that most people ended up having three to five hour blocks of sleep, followed by a few hours of being awake, before another three to five hour snooze session. Some historians believe this sleep pattern was normal for humans before modern artificial lighting extended our days into what was used to be sleepy time.
We take sleeping seriously at Luxi, and we’re sure you do too. We’ll be posting more sleep-related articles soon.