It’s the end of the day, and you’re ready to unwind and relax. You’ve finished with your work and you’re either enjoying a nice night in with yourself or a friend. You uncork a beautiful bottle of Merlot and pour yourself a nice tall glass of wine. It tastes refreshingly delicious and fruity.
After a few sips, you feel your body relaxing, your muscles loosening up and your mind drifting. As good as the wine tastes, it doesn’t take long for you to start feeling sleepy! You might be asking yourself-“why does wine make me sleepy?”
We all love wine, but why is it that after a few glasses of red wine, we’re suddenly ready to fall asleep? Does wine make you sleepy?
If you’re someone who’s ever gotten tired after sharing a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that wine CAN make you sleepy and drinking wine or other types of alcohol before bed can significantly reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. (1)
Curious how it works? Here’s the scoop.
Table of Contents
Wine as a Depressant
Wine is a depressant, meaning once it enters your body, it starts to inhibit your central nervous system, slowing it down. It doesn’t take long for a little red wine to absorb into your bloodstream, and you can feel the effects of it just 20 minutes after drinking a glass.
Depressants work by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system called “GABA” which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid which is a hormone that slows down your brain activity. Alcohol is said to lower inhibition and motor control, and this is how it does it.
Drinking wine increases the activity of Gaba which causes your brain to work slower and after a while, your neurons start firing less and less which is what leads to the feeling of sleepiness.
Depressants also calm nerves and relax your muscles which is one reason why people feel sleepy after drinking some wine.(2)
Did you know that wine can contain melatonin?
Scientists have found that the grape skins involved in the winemaking process contain significant amounts of melatonin, which is the hormone your brain produces to regulate your sleep cycle and maintain a good circadian rhythm.
Your brain naturally produces melatonin but it can also be ingested with special sleeping tablets or food, and grapes are one the foods melatonin is found in.
Different Grapes and Melatonin Present
Different grapes have different levels of melatonin present which means the type of wine you drink can also affect how sleepy you get.
As we all know, wine is made from grapes and different types of wines utilize the grapes in different ways. White wine for example is usually made from grapes that have the skin removed. Since melatonin lies in the grape skin, white wine typically has much lower levels of it since the grapes are skinned before being used in the fermentation process.
Red wine is made using whole grapes, leaving red wine with a higher melatonin level than white wine. Not all red grapes have a ton of melatonin. The Cabernet Franc grape has much lower levels than others.
White grapes mature at a faster rate than red grapes so they’re picked much earlier, resulting in lower sugar levels and lower alcohol levels in the fermentation process and wine production and by the time red grapes are picked they’re extremely ripe, containing much higher levels of sugar, which results in higher alcohol levels as the yeasts have more sugar to convert into alcohol during the fermentation process.
Red wine won’t entirely put you to sleep as the amount of melatonin in the actual wine itself is much less than what you’d get from a sleeping pill, however, it can still make an impact on your level of drowsiness. White wine can also make you sleepy just to a lesser amount.
Wine as a Diuretic
Wine is a diuretic, which means it causes you to use the bathroom which in turn dehydrates you without proper replenishment. This dehydration is something that can add to you feeling sleepy as dehydration causes a decrease in blood pressure and a reduction of blood flow around the brain.
Reduced blood flow around your brain results in your neurons firing slower and slower leading to an overall drowsier, tired state. This makes you feel sleepy and some individuals can be more sensitive to this than others.
It might seem like a small factor, but the social setting in which we enjoy wine can also affect how sleepy we get when consuming wine.
If you’re in a nice, relaxing environment with close friends you trust and feel comfortable around, you’re overall going to be much more relaxed which helps to put you in a sleepier state. Drinking wine makes you comfortable.
Wine makes you relaxed and can calm both your muscles and your nerves but being with the right people causes you to be even more relaxed.
How Does Wine Affect Sleep?
While wine makes you sleepy, it can also disrupt your deep sleep and reduce your sleep quality as well.
According to the Harvard Medical School’s publishing website, alcohol consumption raises the level of epinephrine in your body, a stress hormone that increases your heart rate and stimulates the body. Epinephrine can wake you up in the middle of the night if you get a sudden boost of it out of nowhere.
A few hours later from drinking red wines with friends, you might get a sudden boost of epinephrine in your body from the wine which causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.
Low doses of alcohol have been shown to do this too, however, this is another thing that varies with each person. One person might be able to drink several alcoholic drinks without waking up in the middle of the night at all. People with sleep disorders should be wary of this, as consuming wine before bed can disrupt sleep cycles and sleep patterns.
How to Avoid Getting Sleepy When Drinking Wine
If you want to avoid getting sleepy when consuming alcohol, here are a few different things that you can do to keep your head up and your eyes awake.
Make sure to plan and eat some food before opening that bottle. Hasn’t someone ever told you to always eat something before drinking wine? It’s never good to drink on an empty stomach and consuming fruits and vegetables that have high water contents can make a big difference in how sleepy you feel after drinking wine.
Avoid sugary foods, as they get digested quickly, and pick heart-healthy fruits and vegetables which slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the body.
Drinking some water before you drink wine or after a few glasses is just as important as eating some food. Drinking water dilutes the alcohol in your system and serves to flush it away faster when you’re sobering up as well.
It’s important to stay hydrated as alcohol in general dehydrates you, which can result in you feeling very sleepy and tired.
Savor the moment
Drinking wine isn’t supposed to be a competition so take your time and savor the moment. Drinking a glass of red wine or any type of alcohol too quickly can bring on the effects much faster than if you were to just sip on it every other moment, so go slow.
Who would’ve thought wine makes you sleepy, especially red wine? I know plenty of people who’ve asked themselves “Why does wine make me sleepy?” with no answer.
If you want to prevent the sleepiness that comes with drinking wine make sure to follow the tips mentioned above, but if you don’t mind being sleepy after a few glasses of vino, happy drinking!
Be careful not to use wine as a sleep aid, however, because depending on how much alcohol you consume in a certain time frame, your body can adjust very fast in just a few days. Our bodies adjust and adapt to things fast, it’s an evolutionary trait, and if you drink a lot of wine often, you might continuously need a higher amount of wine to feel that same level of sleepiness you felt before.
Make sure to drink responsibly, as excess wine drinking can lead to addiction too.
Everyone’s body reacts differently and we all feel the effects of wine differently. Some people get sleepy after a few sips, some don’t get sleepy at all. It all depends on the wine you’re drinking, how fast you’re drinking it, the type of wine itself, and other factors as well.
Regardless, make sure to enjoy a nice tall glass of red wine with friends, but don’t let it interfere with your precious deep sleep!
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