re: Melotonin, I’m not sure that’d work in this situation. Melotonin is basically the chemical that tells your brain it’s getting dark, so it’s time to get sleepy. It helps you get to sleep at the beginning of the night, but isn’t so helpful for the second sleep cycle.
I occasionally suffer similarly to mister @Inbar, generally I get up, hydrate, read for half an hour and then go back to bed. This usually gets me that 3-7 chunk of sleep. I think there’s a lot to be said for what @MattHo is saying about temperature too. I realise that in getting up (and dealing with out floors) I am cooling myself down too.
There’s much on this thread that resonates with me. Just the night before it started my fishing companion and I were reflecting that we now ‘know when to stop drinking’, in contrast to 10 or 12 years ago when we first started our regular trips.
The Times article today about the Sleepio app says that there are half a million people in this country taking the drugs that @PHarvey says we should avoid like the plague.
I tend to wake in the small hours too, sometimes I get back to sleep quickly, sometimes like @JayKay, I plug in to the radio. BBC 4Extra is quite useful - it might be something very entertaining, in which case it’s a bonus. Other times it will be the middle of a dramatisation of an old novel you’ve never heard of, which will either send you to sleep quickly or alert you to something new to you.
Now that I’m no longer working there’s less to get stressed about at night, so I’m not in that vicious circle of anxiety and sleeplessness. Maybe I just need less sleep these days.
Getting back to the original point, I don’t notice a huge difference between drinking and dry evenings, perhaps because usually I’ve finished drinking before 9pm.
In the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (very good book but just a warning that it can make you very anxious about sleep, which unfortunately, can make you sleep worse) he explains that as much as a single unit of alcohol can significantly affect the quality of your sleep. Even if it may help you fall asleep quicker, it massively reduces the quality of REM sleep (deep sleep) when your brain does the majority of the restorative work during the night. The only way to avoid it is to not drink unfortunately.
Whilst there is lots of good advice on this thread regarding sleep in general, if he doesn’t have this issue when not drinking, then it is the alcohol causing it.
And if it’s the alcohol causing it then it’s due to glutamine rebound which wakes you up and makes you alert (preventing you from sleeping until it wears off).
The solution to this is dihydromyricetin as I mentioned before. I’ve tried and tested it and so have several other people I know - it works, and it prevents you from waking in the night and staying awake. I’m hesitant to recommend anybody takes anything without researching it throroughly themselves though so please DYOR.
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and suggestions! I shared them all with the other half. What a fab community this is!
Sleep hygiene is something we’re both big on; so a cool room is a must (a menopausal lady and a heat-sensitive man a nice pair make )- as is lowering of lights, sleep mask and nothing stimulating at least an hour before sleep. The other half has no ‘screen’ as such (no smartphone or tablet) - so this isn’t an issue, he usually reads himself to sleep. He also stopped drinking caffeinated tea by 3-ish.
He currently experiments with audio books for when he wakes in the middle of the night - seems to work sometimes, but sometimes just seems to keep him awake. He is also skinny, and exercises a lot - so I don’t think the issue lies there.
I like the suggestion of actually waking up and reading quietly somewhere else, to also ‘cool’ off any residual heat, but so far he’s been resisting it, fearing that it will just wake him further. I might raise it again…
Interesting about the antihistamine… the other half did take some a few times now when he was fully awake at night, and they seemed to have eased things a bit. But he only did it because he suffers from Hay Fever, so we had some around the house and he thought that what was keeping him awake could be the sort of itchiness and discomfort associated with Hay Fever. I wonder if antihistamine does something else to help with sleep…? maybe it’s a muscle relaxant of sort? I really don’t know.
This one is very interesting! We will definitely read more about it. Sounds like it’s used as a hangover remedy, rather than a sleep aid, but maybe it helps with metabolising the alcohol better which in turn helps sleep. One to research further.
Incidentally, I read somewhere that Jancis Robinson swears by something called Milk Thistle… I wonder if this is similar in composition to the DHM?
We both read the Matthew Walker’s book, and it definitely frightened the other half. One of the books that made him really panic about the impact of lack of consistent and deep sleep… Good to see there are some challenges to it @Joll - will definitely read the link you sent. Always good to hear counter-arguments.
We have just started experimenting with drinking earlier (well, as early as finishing work allows) and trying to finish by 8pm or thereabouts. Still too soon to see if this works, though it makes a lot of sense. Like many suggested - I think he will have to experiment with a period of abstinence to see if it makes a difference. Funnily enough, it’s not the wine he regrets missing, but his homebrew…
Lots to take in - so thank you again for taking the time to write it all! It’s amazing, in fact, how many people suffer from insomnia in some form or another. As someone who can sleep standing up it’s hard for me to imagine it (and child-rearing sleep deprivation is a distant memory, but I really struggled with it!). The other half is also 9 years older than me, so perhaps I will catch up on this front… hope not!
On a happier note - no booze last night, and he slept like a baby…
I’ve read this thread with interest (and no little understanding). In my younger days drink seldom concerned me as far as sleep went. A really heavy evening might disrupt it but when you’re younger it seems to be much easier to just get through the day after without any real impact. As I’ve got older it has become an issue, though it’s really only a serious issue occasionally. However when it is I have developed what appear to be accompanying anxiety attacks but having had all the tests up to and including holter 24 hr ecg there doesn’t appear to be any physiological underlying cause ( and it’s really only developed into a problem since spring 2020 - I wonder what might have caused that? ). I’ve adopted most of the strategies discussed above, earlier stop, cutting out post 4pm caffeine and more water - though being male and of advancing years there’s an element of replacing one problem with another.
In the end I have come to the realisation that if I want to drink I have to accept there may be downsides. Knowing there’s no underlying issue does at least mean the issue isn’t compounded by also once awake being worried that it’s more serious. And being retired I can catch up on the sleep with no issue around having to work for a living.