Alcohol’s disruptive effects on sleep may be more pronounced among women

Eureka Alert

February 15, 2011

Contact: Ian Demsky
idemsky@umich.edu

734-764-2220
University of Michigan

Researchers have known for decades that alcohol can initially deepen sleep during the early part of the night but then disrupt sleep during the latter part of the night; this is called a “rebound effect.” A new study of the influence of gender and family history of alcoholism on sleep has found that intoxication can increase feelings of sleepiness while at the same time disrupt actual sleep measures in healthy women more than in healthy men.

Results will be published in the May 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

“It’s clear that a substantial portion of the population uses alcohol on a regular basis to help with sleep problems,” said J. Todd Arnedt, assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study. “This perception may relate to the fact that alcohol helps people fall asleep quickly and they may be less aware of the disruptive effects of alcohol on sleep later in the night.”

Arnedt said that his group decided to examine gender differences in the effects of alcohol on sleep because very few alcohol administration studies have included female participants and, since women metabolize alcohol differently than men, it seemed reasonable to expect differences by gender.

“Our decision to examine family history was based on some observational studies showing different sleep characteristics among family-history positive participants compared to family-history negative participants,” he explained. “Family-history positive individuals also seem to be more resistant to the acute intoxicating effects of alcohol than individuals without a family history of alcoholism.”

Arnedt and his colleagues recruited 93 healthy adults (59 women, 34 men) in their twenties through advertisements in the Boston area, 29 of whom had a positive family history of alcoholism. Between 8:30 and 10:00 p.m., participants consumed either a placebo beverage or alcohol to the point of intoxication as determined by breath alcohol concentration (BrAC). Their sleep was then monitored with polysomnography between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Participants also completed questionnaires at bedtime and upon awakening.

“Alcohol increased self-reported sleepiness and disrupted sleep quality more in women than men,” said Arnedt. “Sleep quality following alcohol did not differ between family-history positive and family-history negative subjects. Morning ratings of sleep quality were worse following alcohol than placebo. Findings also confirmed results from other studies that a high dose of alcohol solidifies sleep in the first half of the night, meaning more deep sleep, but disrupts it in the second part of the night, meaning more wakefulness.”

Read more….

PG

Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.