Despite the fact that you could probably sleep for a steady 12 hours following a boozy night out, you ALWAYS end up feeling shattered the day after, longing for a 6pm bedtime.
Why? Because the quality of sleep we get is actually crap. And Professor Colin Espie, a sleep expert from the University of Oxford and co-founder of Sleepio.com, has explained why.
You’ll be reassured to know that alcohol is just about as effective in sending you to sleep as sleeping tablets are (hence the fact it’s double gin after double gin on a long-haul flight where terrified flyers are concerned). It sends you to sleep incredibly quickly, but ‘alcohol-induced sleep is not normal sleep.’
The Professor describes alcohol-related sleep as being ‘of a poorer and less restorative quality’, and warns us not to use it as an aid for getting to sleep. Whoops.
While alcohol functions like a sedative, ‘it doesn’t promote your natural sleep processes, so it can result in a more broken up, unsatisfying sleep,’ Professor Espie explains.
And the reason you always wake up at the sparrow’s fart following a night out, before realising it’s way to early to even be alive, and throwing your duvet back over your head? That’s because after drinking alcohol you initially enter deeper phases of sleep, which potentially suppresses ‘other important stages of sleep such as REM or rapid eye movement sleep’.
But as you metabolise the alcohol and it clears through your system, Professor Espie explains how ‘there is a “rebound” in these suppressed phases of sleep leading to more awakenings and lighter sleep’. Which is annoying, can’t we just get some peace around here?
So maybe we should all think twice before we consume the estimated 62 units of alcohol (around 30 glasses of wine) this Christmas. Or, you know, maybe not. We’ve got the rest of our lives to get a good night’s sleep.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk