The Benefits of Avoiding Alcohol, Water, and Caffeine Before Bed

Last Updated January 5, 2024

If you're struggling to get a good night's sleep, your evening habits are to be blamed. Every time you head out to a pub in the late evening, or sit with a fine glass of wine at home post work, or drink a copious amount of coffee at the office to stay concentrated on your work (or rather stay sane at work), every such act can impact your nighttime rest.

the benefits of avoiding alcohol, water, and caffeine before bed

Even if you drink more than 8 ounces of water in the late evening,  you must stay ready to get up more than once during your night's sleep to use the bathroom. Yes, excessive hydration before bed can also interrupt your body’s natural rhythm.

african american woman drinking water at night

But what is it about alcohol, caffeine, or even ingesting too much water close to bedtime? Can they all interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep? Well, all these drinks have some properties that can easily cause disruptions in your normal sleep cycle.  Further, leading to poorer sleep quality which makes you more fatigued the next day.

businesswoman with computer working at night office and drinking coffee

In this blog, we will look at whatever is in our glasses or, for that matter, cups and mugs. Read on to know more about the hows and whys of avoiding beverages that can disturb your sleep and rest.

Is it bad to drink alcohol before bed?

Sleep is important. It helps you recover from daytime fatigue and mental stress. It is also important to restore your energy. Good sleep aids your learning abilities and memory while keeping your body and mind in a good mood.

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Another fun activity that people think will put them in a good mood is drinking alcohol. But we all know where it leads to, right?

Often people consider moderate alcohol consumption good for health. But it is the habit of drinking in excess the night before that impacts our sleep cycle. You wake up with a hangover the next morning and go on a wild goose chase of finding remedies for it.

Popular wisdom says that drinking helps you sleep. Especially it helps the depressed or anxious ones. But in truth, a good cocktail doesn’t mix with good sleep.

depressed tired female at home drinks strong alcohol

You will find that alcohol in your body can affect sleep quality, duration, and continuation. In simpler words, you will wake up often in the nighttime and during the early mornings, times when maintaining sleep is crucial.

So, if you do choose to drink alcohol before bed, make sure to drink in moderation and stop drinking a few hours before you go to sleep. This will give your body time to process the alcohol and cut the risk of waking up during the night and at odd hours.

Why shouldn't you drink before you sleep?

You have heard the arguments about it. But there are a few reasons behind that traditional wisdom as to why it is generally not advised to drink alcohol before sleep.

For one, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can dehydrate your body. That alone will make you wake up feeling thirsty in the middle of the night.

Additionally, alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns. That means you will wake up more than average people during the night after drinking.

hangover man with a bottle of wine sitting on the floor near the toilet in the bathroom

And finally, drinking before bed can lead to heartburn or indigestion.  You don't want an uncomfortable and disruptive sleep, don't you? If yes, then it's best to avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime to get the most restful sleep possible.

How does alcohol affect sleep?

There is no one answer to this question because the effects of alcohol on sleep depend on many factors. Right from how much one consumes to a person’s individual physiology. Generally speaking, alcohol does tend to have some negative effects on sleep.

For starters, alcohol consumption can cause disruptions to normal sleep patterns. Alcohol suppresses melatonin and so drinking it can make it difficult for individuals to fall asleep. and can cause people to wake up frequently during the night for a bathroom trip. Alcohol also interferes with the quality of sleep, making it less restful and less refreshing.

man having a hangover after night party

Besides, alcohol consumption can lead to morning grogginess and fatigue. Why? Because the intake of a good amount of alcohol prevents deep sleep and REM sleep. REM or deep sleep is important for restoring energy levels and refreshing the mind.

While alcohol may help people fall asleep initially, it is not likely to lead to a good night’s sleep. In fact, it can actually make sleep problems worse.

How long before sleep should you stop drinking alcohol?

Avoid drinking alcohol at least four hours before bedtime. However, this may not be enough time for everyone to sober up completely.

Even when you feel you are not tipsy enough, your BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) can tell otherwise. What is BAC? It is the ratio of alcohol in your blood to the water in your blood.

Some factors that can affect how long it takes to sober up after drinking include the type and amount of alcohol consumed, a person's weight and body fat percentage, and whether they have eaten anything recently.

Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, so it is hard to say definitively how long someone should wait before drinking before sleep.

happy friends drinking draft beer and clinking glasses at a bar or pub

So, in general, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid drinking any alcohol close to bedtime. So for the safe side, just stop drinking for at least a few hours (4-5 are a relatively good number of hours to help you sober up) before you go to bed.

If you do drink alcohol before sleep, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other non-alcoholic fluids. You should also avoid drinking too much alcohol in one sitting, as this can increase the amount of time it takes to sober up.

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Which is worse for sleep - Alcohol or caffeine?

This is a tough choice for your body and mind. Alcohol and/or caffeine, both when ingested close to bedtime, can interfere with your body's natural sleep process.

Alcohol, as stated above, is a diuretic, which means it can make you need to pee more frequently. Caffeine is a stimulant, which can make it harder to fall asleep.

holding hot coffee before bed

While alcohol consumption might not be that regular and intensive, nearly 90% of Americans consume coffee and any caffeine-based drink on an almost daily basis.

Alcohol can help you fall asleep, but it also decreases the quality of your sleep. Caffeine, on the other hand, can make it harder to fall asleep but doesn’t seem to have as big of an impact on the quality of sleep.

Ultimately, both alcohol and caffeine can have negative effects on sleep, so it is best to limit or avoid the consumption of both substances before bedtime.

Why should you not have caffeine before bed?

Research suggests that if you consume 4 cups of coffee even 3 or 6 hours before your sleep, caffeine from all the sips taken can reduce your sleep by more than 1 hour.

But again, it can vary from person to person due to their body types and tolerance levels.

group of friends meeting in coffee shop

Still, if you had your morning coffee and post-lunch meetings seem too much, even then, drinking coffee in the late afternoon can be a bad idea for your early night sleep.

Why does caffeine affect sleep?

Caffeine is a natural chemical but has a stimulant effect within it, which means it has the potential to affect your sleep. It can interfere with our body clock, increase activity in our brains, and by making us more alert about ourselves and our surroundings, it definitely makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

tired businessman takes a nap with coffee at a workplace

In addition, caffeine can cause disruptions in normal sleep patterns, which can lead to feeling tired during the day. The effects of caffeine on sleep depend on several factors, including how much caffeine you consume, when you consume it, and your individual sensitivity to caffeine.

So now what? What about water? How much is too much? Let’s find out.

What happens if we drink more water before sleeping?

If you drink more water before going to bed, you may find yourself needing to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. While this can be annoying, it is not harmful and will simply mean that you are well-hydrated.

Proper hydration is important for many bodily functions, so it is always good to drink plenty of water throughout the day. While hydration might be important but also keep in mind that our body absorbs enough fluid (19-20 %) from vegetables, fruits, and other food that we have during the course of the day.

a young woman is drinking a glass of water at home in her kitchen

Also, the thing is there’s no consensus about the right amount of water in a day, and daily water intake suggestions from various medical and food safety authorities go from 1.5 to 3.7 liters a day.  But still, thirst is the better indicator from your body that you need to hydrate it; no more, no less.

When should you stop drinking water before bed?

There isn't a definitive answer to this question, as everyone's bodies and sleep habits are different. However, experts generally suggest avoiding drinking water for at least two hours before bedtime. This gives your body time to absorb the water and prevents you from having to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.

If you're worried about being dehydrated during the night, try drinking a glass of water before dinner and avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening.

man in bed drinking from a glass of water at home

You can also keep a glass of water by your bedside to drink if you wake up thirsty during the night. You can also drink plenty of fluids earlier in the day and limit your intake in the evening. Also, no soda or sugary drinks either!

What should you drink before bed?

You might be thinking that we are running out of options here. But there are still a few different things that you can drink before bed in order to help you sleep better.

One option is to drink chamomile tea, which can help relax your body and mind.

chamomile tea

You can try drinking warm milk, which can also help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

If you're looking for something with a little more kick, try drinking decaffeinated green tea before bed. This tea contains theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to promote sleep.

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Lastly, if you're looking for a natural way to fall asleep faster, try drinking valerian root tea. This herb has sedative properties that can help you drift off to sleep quickly and easily.

a jug pouring milk into a glass

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So you see, there are many benefits to avoiding alcohol, water, and caffeine before bed. Abstinence from these can help you sleep more soundly and deeply and can assist you in waking up on time.

With less dehydration and improved digestion, doing away with these drinks not only improves your sleep but also your overall health.

Remember, diet plays an important role in your life so if you are confused about the kind of diet plan you should follow, send us your queries and doubts in the comments.

Disclaimer: What is said in this article has been referenced from multiple sources and is intended only for educational and informational purposes. Please note that no content in this article is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. Always consult an experienced doctor with any concerns you may have regarding a health condition or treatment, and never disregard any medical suggestions or delay in seeking treatment because of something you read here.

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