Q: I like to have a glass or two of red wine in the evenings, but I’ve heard that alcohol can affect your dreams. Is that true?
A: In a word, yes. Drinking wine before bed is likely to affect your dreams. But is this good or bad, and should you change your drinking habits because of it? I’ll leave that decision up to you.
Common wisdom says that drinking wine at night may relax you and help you fall asleep, but it negatively impacts the quality of sleep overall by causing you to wake in the middle of the night and have trouble returning to sleep.
This is obviously problematic in terms of getting a full and deep night’s rest, but it can also negatively impact your dream life. Here’s why:
During the course of the night we move through various sleep cycles, one of which is the REM cycle during which most vivid dreams take place. The early sleep cycles, during which time the wine is most present in your body, are the ones with the shortest REM cycles.
The second part of the night, in which those dreamy REM cycles lengthen, can be interrupted by alcohol’s affect on your body. The bottom line is that you’ve slept well during the half of the night with briefer dream cycles, and are tossing and turning awake in bed during the second dream-rich half of the night when those luscious REM cycles would normally kick in.
Another reason people are often warned away from drinking before bed is that wine has a reputation for leading to nightmares and vivid dreams. For adventurous dreamers, those vivid dreams are a plus … and truly adventurous dreamers might be willing to risk a nightmare or two for the enhanced excitement of unusual and memorable dreams. Also, some dreamers report having more lucid dreams after enjoying a nightcap.
I haven’t read scientific studies that connect lucid dreaming and alcohol, but it makes sense to me. First of all, bizarre elements of unusual dreams or nightmares often tip the dreamer off to the fact that they’re dreaming, thus provoking lucidity. Also, I find I have lucid dreams on nights I wake and fall back asleep a couple of times. Maybe wine’s tendency to interrupt our sleep cycles also induces more lucidity during the snippets when we do doze off.
But that’s speculation. As usual, I encourage you to be your own sleep scientist. Take note of your own experience with drinking and dreaming – but always dream safe! Less is more when it comes to drinking. And anyway, isn’t dreaming itself is all the buzz you need?
Some helpful hints when it comes to drinking and dreaming:
- To avoid alcohol’s negative affects on sleep, enjoy your glass of wine at least three hours before bedtime. That will allow the wine to metabolize and work its way through your system before you snooze.
- Don’t overdo it! Drink a glass of water for every glass of wine you imbibe. That will slow down your alcohol consumption and keep you hydrated.
- If you are drinking wine to unwind before bed, find other non-alcoholic ways to slow down and sooth your tensions. Try taking a warm bath, meditate, or read a good book before bed, instead.
*Corner View is a weekly appointment each Wednesday, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is Wine. Start here to visit more Corner View blogs.