Alcohol is widely enjoyed in Australian society, and is a regular feature at Australian social and recreational activities. When consumed in moderation, alcohol can form part of a healthy lifestyle that cinludes good diet and exercise. However, drinking too much – whether on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health.
While we don’t want to be a ‘party pooper’, it’s important you understand how alcohol is affecting your day-to-day wellbeing.
Alcohol and your SLEEP
Consuming alcohol close to bed time can help people initially fall asleep. However, unfortunately it makes the rest of your sleep worse. According to a number of studies, while alcohol does allow you to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply for a while, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In REM sleep, people dream, relax and restore. Without alcohol, a normal person can expect 6-7 cycles of REM sleep, people who drink alcohol before bed experience only 1-2 cycles. Once the alcohol wears off they are more likely to wake up abruptly feeling lethargic and exhausted. This can lead to a lack of concentration and sluggishness the following day.
Alcohol can also have indirect effects on your sleep:
- As a diuretic, alcohol draws water away from the body, expelling it as urine. This leads to more frequent toilet breaks disrupting your sleep and then waking up dehydrated.
- Alcohol also relaxes your muscles including those through the mouth and jaw. This can lead to snoring and a reduction of oxygen intake during the night.
So the next time you consider that nightcap, remember alcohol and a good night’s sleep don’t mix.
Alcohol and your MOOD
Research has shown that regular heavy drinkers of alcohol are more prone to depression, anxiety and psychosis. Alcohol interferes with the neurotransmitters of the brain that encourage good mental health. Serotonin is one of the most important transmitters for regulating mood, and drinking rapidly decreases the levels in the brain.
In addition, alcohol is a depressant, which means brain processes are slowed and neurons are impaired. This means during a heavy night of drinking new memories are often unable to be created or stored, which is why some people don’t remember some or all of the previous night’s events. Long term drinkers have been shown to have difficulty recalling memories even when they haven’t consumed alcohol.
Alcohol and your IMMUNE SYSTEM
Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system. It produces an overall nutritional deficiency, which deprives the body of valuable immune-boosting nutrients. In addition, when alcohol is consumed in excess, it reduces the ability of white cells to kill germs. High doses of alcohol suppress the ability of the white blood cells to multiply and inhibit the action of killer white cells on cancer cells, making you more susceptible to illness and disease. What’s worse is recent research has shown even just one night of binge drinking affects the immune system, and it can happen within just 20 minutes of ingesting alcohol! Now that’s a good reason to say stop to the shots.
Alcohol and your WEIGHT
Alcohol contains a high level of energy compared to other sources. Alcohol contains 71 calories per standard drink; two standard drinks would equate to eating a scoop of chocolate ice-cream, four standard drinks would be the equivalent of eating a cheeseburger. And that’s before we’ve even added the mixers!
In addition, many alcoholic drinks contain high sugar levels. The recommended sugar intake for males is 36g or 9 teaspoons and for women 24g or 6 teaspoons. This means that one or two drinks could consume your sugar allowance for the day!
Here at REDIMED we offer a wide range health and wellness support and programs, including education and training, checks and capacity assessments and health management plans. To view all our health and wellness services, please visit our website.
If you would like to enquire about our services, please feel free to contact a member of the REDIMED team here.