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Drinkers ignorant of sleep problems

Drinkers across England are losing valuable sleep and disrupting vital brain functions without knowing that their boozing is the cause, new research for the government's Know Your Limits campaign has today revealed.

More than half (58%) of nearly 2,000 drinkers surveyed by YouGov did not realise that drinking above the recommended daily limits can cause sleep problems, with more men (63%) than women (53%) unaware of the link.

Almost half (45%) of those surveyed admit to experiencing tiredness the day after drinking over the recommended daily limits, but it seems many people don't realise this could be due to alcohol interfering with their normal, restful sleep

Jessica Alexander, spokesperson for the Sleep Council said: "Although many people may feel alcohol helps them get off to sleep, it is also a major culprit for disrupting your night as it can interfere with the body's chemical processes needed for sound sleep. Waking up deprived of the vital sleep your body needs will leave you feeling drained and, if experienced night after night, can seriously affect your health and wellbeing."

The so-called "drinker's false dawn" is caused by the way alcohol disrupts the crucial REM stage, which is essential for a deep, satisfying night's sleep. Alcohol stops you reaching this stage early in the night, meaning your body has to catch-up later in the night.

REM sleep is also believed to be important for the creation of memories, which is one reason why heavy drinkers can sometimes wake up unable to remember parts of their evening.

The NHS recommends women do not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day (a large 250ml glass of 12% wine is 3 units) and men do not regularly drink more than 3-4 units (a pint of 5.2% beer is 3 units).

Over ten million adults in England regularly exceed these limits, affecting their general day to day health, but also increasing their risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease and various cancers.

Department of Health