Does Drinking a Nightcap Help People Sleep?

Drinking a nightcap — an alcoholic beverage just before going to bed — might help people fall asleep more quickly, but they tend to wake up more often during the night. Having a drink before bedtime can affect rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, or the period of sleep that is the most restorative and helps people feel refreshed upon waking. The negative effects of drinking a nightcap generally occur during the latter stages of sleep and do not seem apparent at the start, which is why people might believe that alcohol is an effective sleep aid.

More about sleep:

  • Interrupted sleep can contribute to health issues such as decreased memory, weight gain and cardiovascular diseases.

  • Women’s sleep tends to be more affected by alcohol than men’s sleep. This is thought possibly to be the result of women metabolizing alcohol in the bloodstream more quickly than men.

  • REM cycles are when dreaming occurs, and because alcohol consumption reduces the duration of REM, drinking a nightcap typically results in a dreamless sleep.

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