A drink or two during social events is considered normal, but a drink before bedtime? A drink before bed is called a nightcap. Nightcap benefits include helping you fall asleep faster and deeper. Many swear by it—especially those who have trouble sleeping, no matter how comfortable their mattress may be. We explain what a nightcap is and whether having a nightcap is worth the shot.
What is a nightcap?
In the 1700s, a nightcap was a sleeping attire worn to help people stay warm to have a good night’s sleep. In modern days, a nightcap has become the practice of drinking a small alcoholic drink before bedtime. Many believe a nightcap or drink before bedtime warms them up and calms them, making them fall asleep faster.
Does it really work?
Anecdotally, many swear by a nightcap to help them sleep faster and reach deeper sleep. However, sleep scientists have identified that while it makes people snooze a little faster, it doesn’t help much with sleep quality.
According to a study by Williams and Salamy in the 70s featured in a Washington Post article, alcohol made the subjects fall asleep faster. However, those who consumed more alcohol woke up more frequently during the night. They also had a lighter sleep in the second half of the night.
Timothy Roehrs, a Director of Research in the Sleep Disorders and Research Centre at Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System, confirmed the study’s results by saying, “what alcohol gives, it takes away.”
So yes, a little alcohol before bed may promote sleep by increasing adenosine, a brain chemical that accumulates as the body burns energy. However, the benefits of alcohol on sleep may be short-lived. According to Roehr’s research, drinking for six consecutive days may increase an individual’s alcohol tolerance, and the benefits can quickly wear off. Reaching a certain alcohol threshold may make individuals wakeful during the last hours of the night and may worsen sleep quality.
Is having a nightcap worth a try?
It all boils down to drinking in moderation. If you’re not doing it every night, drinking small amounts of alcohol can facilitate sleep without disrupting rest later in the night. So yes, you can benefit from an occasional drink, just don’t do it every night!
Remember, a nightcap is not a long-term solution. Sleep scientists will always have a similar answer when asked whether alcohol helps or harms your sleep. When the quality of your sleep affects your waking life, a nightcap may not be the best solution. It’s always better to focus on identifying the problem’s root cause. Why are you having difficulty sleeping? Maybe it’s your medication, maybe it’s your caffeine intake, or maybe it’s your mattress.
Invest in a good mattress at Bedpost NZ
An occasional nightcap may be good for sleep but lying down on a well-made mattress is better! Re-energise yourself from a long and tiring day with a good mattress.
At Bedpost, we offer a wide range of beds, pillows, and mattresses that help you get the quality sleep you deserve. Shop our full range today!