Not So Lucky the Next Day: St. Patrick’s Day, Alcohol and Sleep

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St. Patricks Day . . . The day when everyone is at least a little bit Irish. Originating in Ireland, it is one of the most popular holidays in America. And despite it originally being a “dry” holiday in Ireland with all the bars closed, drinking (green) beer is one of the most American ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. According to Mentalfloss.com, an estimate from 2012 said the total amount spent on beer for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations was $245 million. That is a lot of beer. . . 

So why bring up St. Patrick’s Day and all that beer being drank on a sleep blog? Well, unfortunately the holiday rarely falls on a weekend night. So many of us celebrating end up drinking significantly more alcohol and staying up much later than we normally do when we have to be at work the next day. According to a study conducted about lack of sleep and work productivity, people with reduced sleep quality and quantity had worse work productivity, performance and safety. The study also showed there was an average of $1,967 of productivity loss per employee.

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And it isn’t just staying up to the wee hours of the night with your fellow Irishmen that will affect you. The alcohol you drank right before bedtime will significantly affect your quality of sleep. Many people believe a little nightcap will help them sleep . . . Which it may help get you to sleep by causing drowsiness and/or relaxation, but the other affects it has on your sleep aren’t worth the immediate drowsiness it provides. WebMD states that alcohol reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. 

REM sleep is important because that is when you sleep your deepest and is most restorative for your mind and body. Reduced REM sleep is a big cause of daytime drowsiness and poor concentration. So that is a big price to pay to just help you feel a little drowsy. And that isn’t the only way alcohol can negatively effect your sleep. It could aggravate sleep apnea, cause problems with your memory and even increase your chances of sleepwalking and sleep talking. 

We’re not saying to only drink O’Douls this holiday. But if you’re worried about your productivity the next day try to limit the amount of drinks and stop a reasonable time before heading to bed. . . Or maybe you should just take a vacation day the next day. Either way, have fun and be safe this St. Patrick’s Day! May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning and night.

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