New study finds that women are more likely to suffer a poor night's sleep than men after a heavy drinking session.
"It's clear that a substantial portion of the population uses alcohol on a regular basis to help with sleep problems. 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," said J. Todd Arnedt.
The idea behind the study was to observe alcohol effects based on gender. Since women metabolize alcohol differently than men, it seemed reasonable to expect differences by gender.
Arnedt and his colleagues recruited 93 healthy adults in their twenties, 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 between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
"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," he said.
Women objectively had fewer hours of sleep, woke more frequently and for more minutes during the night, and had more disrupted sleep than men.
"These findings may have implications for future studies examining the relationship between sleep quality and risk for the development of alcohol use disorders, as well as studies evaluating how sleep quality relates to relapse among recovering alcoholic individuals," Arnedt concluded.
The study will be published in the May 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.