It's Sunita here.
If you have walked over to your liquor cabinet and poured yourself a nightcap during this pandemic, consumer reports suggest you are not alone.
"U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages rose 55% in the week ending March 21, according to market research firm Nielsen. Spirits like tequila, gin and pre-mixed cocktails led the way, with sales jumping 75% compared to the same period last year. Wine sales were up 66% while beer sales rose 42%. And online sales far outpaced in-store sales. Nielsen said online alcohol sales were up 243%. Danelle Kosmal, a Nielsen vice president, suspects growth rates peaked that week as people loaded up their pantries before state stay-at-home orders went into effect." Source- Marketwatch
The negative effects of alcohol on our health, decision making and behaviors is of grave concern during any time, but especially so during a pandemic when stresses are more than any other time we have experienced. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every family in our country, and will likely have a yet unknown, and in many cases, a reasonably projected long lasting impact on our health and well being.
It is not unusual for us to turn to alcohol in times of stress, thinking it will help us feel relaxed, and take the edge off our worries and anxiety.
But the exact opposite happens.
And it may be the beginning of a vicious cycle that drags us down the dangerous path of decline, and possible addiction.
To be able to fight, and overcome the stressors of the COVID19 pandemic, it is critical that we maintain optimal physical, emotional and mental health. We must be focused, and have the clarity necessary to ably make short-term and long- term decisions with perspective. For that we need 7-8 hours of restorative sleep. Excessive, or even small amounts of alcohol in many cases will not allow us to get that. Drinking before bedtime is especially detrimental to our sleep.
We need 7-8 hours of restful and restorative sleep to function optimally, so a nightcap is not helping us survive, or thrive during a pandemic that has unleashed stress, worries about our futures, and major disruptions in our personal, social and professional lives.
You may believe that a nightcap helps you sleep more soundly. Untrue! Let me explain how.
1- Alcohol is a sedative.
You may ask why you feel enlivened after drinking alcohol if it is a sedative. Well, the first part of the brain that is immobilized by alcohol is our prefrontal cortex. That is the part of the brain that helps control our impulses and restrains our body. So after drinking an alcoholic beverage, we initially feel like we have "loosened up" and are more relaxed. We may even feel elated, excited and energized. But this gaiety changes into sluggishness as other parts of our brain start to feel the sedative effects of alcohol.
We give up a state of consciousness more readily and slip into a state of sedation. This not the same as sleep. If you were to see the electrical brainwave state of your brain in this period, it would look very different from when you experience natural sleep.
2- Alcohol before bedtime fragments your sleep.
It is causes mini awakenings all night long which are not remembered by us, but negatively impact the nature of natural sleep, causing it to be non restorative. The next day becomes exhausting.
3- Alcohol is one of the most powerful suppresants of REM sleep.
Our REM sleep aids us in memory integration and association, the type of information processing required for developing grammatical rules in new language learning, in synthesizing sets of related facts into an interconnected whole.
It takes our liver and kidneys many hours to degrade and excrete the alcohol consumed before we sleep. Nightly alcohol will disrupt your sleep. More specifically, any alcohol consumption after noon-2 pm will disrupt your sleep.
In addition to the many physical and mental harmful effects it has on us, fragmented sleep and deprivation disruption of REM sleep will result in exhaustion and poor decision making the next day.
Poor decisions most likely will include having a nightcap the next night, and then every night. You get the picture. It is a cascading problem that robs us of our ability to manage our stress and survive the pandemic.
In case you need assistance with alcohol addiction, and/or want more information about Alcohol and Covid-19, please explore this link alcohol and COVID19. Any history of trauma, mental injury, mental illness, depression, anxiety,etc. may put you at a higher risk/susceptibility to alcohol abuse during this stressful time. Do not wait to seek help. If you are suffering from sleep deprivation, insomnia, daytime fatigue/sleepiness, snoring, see your PCP or a sleep specialist immediately. You may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder.
While in quarantine, consider a yellow balloon approach to life. Abstinence is the best, and most predictable way to get a good nights sleep.
Learn more about the "yellow balloon".
Get enough natural sleep. Wake up refreshed. See your problems with a fresh perspective, think creatively, and overcome being stuck. Get to work. Surviving COVID-19 is not the goal. Thriving beyond it is!
Wishing you a week of great sleep and wise decisions,
#selfloveselfcarefirst #selflove #selfcare #sleep #alcohol #nightcap #sleepfragmentation #REM #sleepdeprivation #addiction #COVID19 #stress #survive #thrive #decisionmaking #wellness #mentalhealth #trauma #sleepapnea #insomnia
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