Sleep doctors explain how alcohol affects dreams

The act of dreaming is a normal aspect of the sleeping process. Some people awaken with no recollection of their trip to Dream Land, while others awaken with strong memories of their dreams that are difficult to shake.

What happened throughout the day, what you ate, and your sleeping position are all factors that can impact your dreams. Alcohol is another factor that influences them. It has an effect on your dreams not just that night, but also the next night. Interested in learning how it’s done? Two sleep specialists explain what they mean in this video.

That night’s dreams and how they were influenced by alcohol

Many individuals are confused about how alcohol affects the sleep cycle, says Timothy Young, MD, a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist. It’s easy to believe that because alcohol is a sedative and can make you tired, it’ll help you sleep better. He claims it does the exact opposite in fact. “When we consume alcohol, we fall asleep sooner, but we also wake up later in the night,” adds Dr. Young. “When you drink alcohol, you spend less time sleeping.”

Deep sleep, REM sleep, and light sleep are the three forms of sleep, according to psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist Alex Dimitriu, MD. “People who drink alcohol spend less time in REM sleep, which is when we dream the most,” he explains. Dr. Dimitriu claims that if you drink a couple cocktails before going to bed, you will have fewer dreams than if you don’t. However, this does not rule out the possibility of dreaming. “People can dream in light sleep,” he explains, “but the dreams aren’t as vivid as in REM sleep.”

He argues that dreams in the light sleep period are simpler and more likely to relate to events that occurred during the day. According to Dr. Young, “When you’re sleeping lightly, you may hear a noise or anything in the room. That sound could appear in a dream image you’re seeing “As an illustration, he says

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Dreams after drinking alcohol

But alcohol doesn’t just affect your dreams the night after you’ve had a couple drinks: both sleep experts agree that it’s the day after when things can really go haywire. As you go to bed the following night, the body attempts to make up for the time it lost the night before by spending more time in REM sleep. He explains, “This is why people often have vivid dreams the night after drinking.” The more time your brain spends in REM sleep, the more time it has to weave together intricate details and complex plots. This is vastly different from shallow, straightforward dreams that occur in light sleep.

You may also have trouble remembering your dreams if you drink alcohol, says Dr. Young. His general observation is that people often recall their last dream of the night they had, but even those details fade quickly. It is more likely that you will remember a dream if you wake up in the middle of one. Have you ever noticed that you spend more time in light sleep after you drink? You may wake up mid-dream if you’re in this phase because it helps you wake up easier. Even though these types of dreams tend to be not so intense, waking up in the middle of them increases your chances of remembering them. When you wake up suddenly — such as when your alarm goes off — you may also be more likely to remember your dream, Dr. Young explains. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in light or REM sleep.

Alcohol affects dreams directly, as is clear. Sleep is affected by anything that affects it. It’s important to note, however, that neither sleep doctor recommends drinking to experiment with dreams. It is evident from both studies that alcohol reduces the amount of sleep in REM, which is crucial to overall health. It is possible that the happy hour you went to a few days ago had something to do with why your dream had a plot that was more complex and intense than an episode of Black Mirror.

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