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2023-06-28 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Popular
Can You Drink Alcohol If You Have an Autoimmune Disease?
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Navigating the world of autoimmune diseases and alcohol is tricky, but science shows that the increase in inflammation spells trouble for conditions such as Lupus, psoriasis, Celiac disease, MS, and Type 1 Diabetes.

19 min read

Take Care of Your Mind and Body With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today! 

Read Full Article  →

It’s Friday night. Ah, the magical allure of the weekend after a long work week! You're sitting in your cozy home, finally unwinding, staring at that inviting bottle of your favorite cabernet. But there's a tiny voice whispering at the back of your mind: “What about that autoimmune disease?” Can you really partake? While it’s always a good idea to check with a healthcare provider first, there are some common patterns when it comes to alcohol and autoimmune diseases. Let’s find out more!

The Invisible Battle

Let's begin by understanding autoimmune diseases. These conditions flare up when our immune system — usually our trusty guardian against viruses and bacteria — gets a little confused. It mistakes our healthy cells for foreign invaders and attacks them accordingly. It’s as if the trusty guard dog suddenly sees the mail carrier as an intruder!

There are over 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Some, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect many parts of the body. Others, such as type 1 diabetes and psoriasis, are more specific. Managing these diseases often requires a careful balancing act of lifestyle, diet, medication, and yes — our Friday night libations.

Alcohol: Friend or Foe?

Autoimmune diseases thrive on inflammation. Here's where it gets tricky. Alcohol, in moderate amounts, can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Sounds good, right? Not so fast! Remember, the key word here is "moderate.” Higher amounts of alcohol consumption can lead to chronic inflammation, exacerbating autoimmune diseases.

It's also important to remember that many autoimmune diseases have organ-specific effects. For example, in autoimmune liver disease, consuming alcohol can cause more harm, accelerating liver damage. Similarly, autoimmune diseases that affect the digestive system — such as Crohn's or celiac disease — don’t mix well with alcohol, which can irritate the digestive tract.

In a nutshell, while a glass of wine might not spell disaster for everyone with an autoimmune disease, the effects of alcohol can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the autoimmune disease, the amount and frequency of alcohol intake, and individual genetic factors.

1: The Rheumatoid Arthritis Rollercoaster

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) isn’t your average joint pain. In this chronic autoimmune condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, swelling, and pain. Over time, it can damage joints and even cause joint deformity. RA can also affect other parts of the body including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

Here are some common symptoms of RA:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness that is often worse in the mornings and after inactivity
  • Fatigue, fever, and weight loss

So, where does alcohol fit into the RA picture? There’s good news here: research shows that moderate alcohol consumption won’t increase symptoms for those who already have the disease. But again, the key word is “moderate” — so no more than one drink in a sitting for women and no more than two drinks for men, according to the CDC’s definition of moderate drinking.

The Verdict: Possible Foe

In spite of the low risk associated with moderate drinking and RA, alcohol can interfere with medications commonly used to treat it, such as methotrexate. Mixing alcohol and RA medications can heighten the risk of liver problems and diminish the medication's effectiveness.

Moreover, while alcohol might be anti-inflammatory, it can also cause dehydration which might exacerbate RA symptoms.

2: Lupus and Alcohol: Navigating the Waters

First things first, what is lupus? Like other autoimmune diseases, lupus develops when the immune system turns against parts of the body it's designed to protect, leading to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Think of it like an overeager security system that's a bit too enthusiastic, mistaking friendly visitors (the body's cells) for intruders.

Lupus can be a bit of a chameleon, presenting a range of symptoms that often mimic other ailments. Lupus has some common indicators:

  • Fatigue and fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and the bridge of the nose
  • Skin lesions that worsen with sun exposure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes

How does alcohol play with lupus? Can you drink with lupus? Alcohol and lupus together is kind of a mixed bag. The main concern is that alcohol can interact negatively with medications that are often prescribed to treat lupus, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarials, and corticosteroids. Combining alcohol with these medications can increase the risk of liver complications and stomach bleeding. Alcohol can also amplify the side effects of these meds, making us feel more tired or dizzy.

Does alcohol cause joint inflammation? Alcohol can exacerbate lupus-related skin flares, especially for someone who is sensitive. Plus, alcohol may exacerbate symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain, adding fuel to the lupus fire.

The Verdict: Possible Foe

The lupus-alcohol equation isn't one-size-fits-all. It's about knowledge, understanding your body, and making choices that support your well-being.

3. Multiple Sclerosis and Alcohol: Decoding the Connection


Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Once again, the body's defense system gets a bit too overzealous. In this case, it starts damaging the protective covering of nerve fibers (called myelin), leading to communication issues between the brain and the rest of the body.

MS can also lead to a range of symptoms that differ from person to person, but these are some common signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs
  • Electric-shock sensations with neck movement
  • Tremors, unsteady gait
  • Vision problems, including double vision or partial vision loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness

When it comes to MS and alcohol, things can get tricky. MS already stirs up issues with balance and coordination, and — as we all know — alcohol does, too. Plus, alcohol may not play nice with certain MS medications, so that's another hurdle to watch out for.

The Verdict: More Foe Than Friend

Moderate alcohol consumption does not appear to increase the risk of developing MS, nor does it seem to influence disease progression. However, the keyword here, once again, is "moderate." Binge drinking or consistent heavy drinking can have adverse effects on anyone's health, and with MS, the risks might be even more pronounced.

4. Psoriasis and Alcohol: Peeling Back the Layers

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition caused by accelerated skin cell growth, which causes thick, red, scaly patches to form on the skin. These patches can be itchy and sometimes painful. Imagine the skin's production line going into overdrive, causing a pile-up of cells on the surface. That is psoriasis in action.

Psoriasis can manifest in various forms, but here are some common signs:

  • Red patches covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Itchy, burning, or sore skin
  • Cracked, possibly bleeding skin
  • Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
  • Swollen, stiff joints (a sign of psoriatic arthritis)

Alcohol and psoriasis can be a tricky combination. Excessive alcohol consumption is known to trigger psoriasis outbreaks for some people. It can also interfere with the body's ability to process and eliminate medications used to treat psoriasis, rendering them less effective.

Moreover, alcohol can dehydrate the body, including the skin, possibly making psoriasis symptoms worse. And, in some cases, alcohol has been known to have an inflammatory effect which may potentially flare up psoriasis patches.

The Verdict: Mostly Foe

Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can trigger psoriasis flares and worsen symptoms. That’s why it’s essential for those living with this condition to drink mindfully and consider healthier options such as mocktails.

5. Type 1 Diabetes and Alcohol: Playing With Fire

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking and destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin allows glucose (sugar) from our food to enter our cells and provide energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes has some hallmark symptoms:

  • Frequent urination and excessive thirst
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Mood swings

What happens when type 1 diabetes and alcohol mix? This is a pairing that needs careful attention.

Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to release glucose, increasing the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) for those with type 1 diabetes. While it might initially elevate blood sugar, it can drop later on, especially if we’re taking insulin or other diabetes medications.

Additionally, many alcoholic beverages, especially cocktails, contain sugars and carbs that can spike blood sugar levels. It's essential to factor in these carbs as part of our overall daily intake.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can sometimes mirror the effects of too much alcohol: dizziness, disorientation, and sleepiness. This can make it challenging for those around us to distinguish between intoxication and a medical emergency.

When navigating the alcohol-diabetes combo, keep these points in mind:

  • Stay informed. Know how alcohol affects your blood sugar levels. Monitor it before drinking, while you drink, and for up to 24 hours after drinking.
  • Count your carbs. If your drink has carbohydrates, ensure you account for them in your daily carb count.
  • Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. This can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Opt for a balanced meal or snack beforehand.
  • Keep your company informed. Make sure someone you're with knows you have diabetes and understands the risk of hypoglycemia.
The Verdict: Foe

Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can mess with blood sugar and be potentially dangerous for those living with type 1 diabetes. Always consult with a healthcare provider, such as an endocrinologist, before imbibing when living with this condition.

6. Celiac Disease and Alcohol: Sifting Through the Details

Finally, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — that leads to damage in the small intestine when ingested by those who are sensitive to it. The body misinterprets gluten as a harmful invader and prompts the immune system to attack the inner lining of the small intestine, disrupting the absorption of vital nutrients.

Celiac can be a bit sneaky, presenting a wide array of symptoms. These are some of the common signs to look out for:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Skin rashes
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches and migraines

Where does alcohol stand in the world of celiac disease? Here’s the scoop.

The primary concern with celiac disease and alcohol is the source of the alcohol. Many alcoholic beverages, including beers, ales, lagers, malt beverages, and even some hard ciders, contain gluten. Consuming these would be a no-go for someone with celiac disease.

However, pure distilled spirits, even if they're made from wheat, barley, or rye, are considered gluten-free due to the distillation process. This means spirits like vodka, gin, and whiskey might be safe. Similarly, wines and some ciders are naturally gluten-free and safe for most people with celiac disease. But always read labels or check with manufacturers when in doubt.

The Verdict: Not Necessarily a Friend, But Not a Serious Foe

Considering a drink and living with celiac disease? Here's the mantra: be informed and vigilant. Not all alcoholic beverages will label their gluten content, so doing a bit of homework might be necessary. Additionally, always listen to your body; even gluten-free options might not sit well with everyone.

Diagram about the common autoimmune diseases

So … Can You Drink Alcohol With an Autoimmune Disease?

Well, as you can see, there's really no one-size-fits-all answer here. It all depends on the specific autoimmune disease, your overall health, and the type and amount of alcohol consumed. It’s essential to talk to professionals and take all these factors into consideration to make an informed decision.

Stepping Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

As you figure out how alcohol fits into your life — and whether or not it’s ultimately a no-go because of your autoimmune disease — here are some practical steps to navigate this journey:

  • Dialogue with your doctor. Discuss your questions with your healthcare provider, who can provide tailored advice based on your specific condition and treatment plan.
  • Mindful moderation. If given the green light, remember that moderation is key. The CDC defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Healthy substitutes. Explore non-alcoholic beverages that can still make your evening special. Herbal tea, fruit-infused water, or fancy mocktails can be refreshing alternatives.
  • Support system. Connect with friends, family, or support groups who understand your journey. Shared experiences and understanding make our lives sparkle.
  • Holistic health. Incorporate a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management into your routine. Health is all about balance and teamwork: there are lots of moving parts, and it’s up to us to figure out how to best fit them together.

Listening to the Body

All in all, understanding the interaction between autoimmune diseases and alcohol can be tricky, but ultimately it comes down to understanding your body’s unique needs. It requires patience, discernment, and an appreciation for the nuances. And remember —you're not alone!

Whether we're raising a glass of bubbly or a cup of herbal tea, let's toast to knowledge, health, and the confidence to make the best choices for our wellness.

It’s Friday night. Ah, the magical allure of the weekend after a long work week! You're sitting in your cozy home, finally unwinding, staring at that inviting bottle of your favorite cabernet. But there's a tiny voice whispering at the back of your mind: “What about that autoimmune disease?” Can you really partake? While it’s always a good idea to check with a healthcare provider first, there are some common patterns when it comes to alcohol and autoimmune diseases. Let’s find out more!

The Invisible Battle

Let's begin by understanding autoimmune diseases. These conditions flare up when our immune system — usually our trusty guardian against viruses and bacteria — gets a little confused. It mistakes our healthy cells for foreign invaders and attacks them accordingly. It’s as if the trusty guard dog suddenly sees the mail carrier as an intruder!

There are over 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Some, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect many parts of the body. Others, such as type 1 diabetes and psoriasis, are more specific. Managing these diseases often requires a careful balancing act of lifestyle, diet, medication, and yes — our Friday night libations.

Alcohol: Friend or Foe?

Autoimmune diseases thrive on inflammation. Here's where it gets tricky. Alcohol, in moderate amounts, can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Sounds good, right? Not so fast! Remember, the key word here is "moderate.” Higher amounts of alcohol consumption can lead to chronic inflammation, exacerbating autoimmune diseases.

It's also important to remember that many autoimmune diseases have organ-specific effects. For example, in autoimmune liver disease, consuming alcohol can cause more harm, accelerating liver damage. Similarly, autoimmune diseases that affect the digestive system — such as Crohn's or celiac disease — don’t mix well with alcohol, which can irritate the digestive tract.

In a nutshell, while a glass of wine might not spell disaster for everyone with an autoimmune disease, the effects of alcohol can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the autoimmune disease, the amount and frequency of alcohol intake, and individual genetic factors.

1: The Rheumatoid Arthritis Rollercoaster

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) isn’t your average joint pain. In this chronic autoimmune condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, swelling, and pain. Over time, it can damage joints and even cause joint deformity. RA can also affect other parts of the body including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

Here are some common symptoms of RA:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness that is often worse in the mornings and after inactivity
  • Fatigue, fever, and weight loss

So, where does alcohol fit into the RA picture? There’s good news here: research shows that moderate alcohol consumption won’t increase symptoms for those who already have the disease. But again, the key word is “moderate” — so no more than one drink in a sitting for women and no more than two drinks for men, according to the CDC’s definition of moderate drinking.

The Verdict: Possible Foe

In spite of the low risk associated with moderate drinking and RA, alcohol can interfere with medications commonly used to treat it, such as methotrexate. Mixing alcohol and RA medications can heighten the risk of liver problems and diminish the medication's effectiveness.

Moreover, while alcohol might be anti-inflammatory, it can also cause dehydration which might exacerbate RA symptoms.

2: Lupus and Alcohol: Navigating the Waters

First things first, what is lupus? Like other autoimmune diseases, lupus develops when the immune system turns against parts of the body it's designed to protect, leading to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs. Think of it like an overeager security system that's a bit too enthusiastic, mistaking friendly visitors (the body's cells) for intruders.

Lupus can be a bit of a chameleon, presenting a range of symptoms that often mimic other ailments. Lupus has some common indicators:

  • Fatigue and fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and the bridge of the nose
  • Skin lesions that worsen with sun exposure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes

How does alcohol play with lupus? Can you drink with lupus? Alcohol and lupus together is kind of a mixed bag. The main concern is that alcohol can interact negatively with medications that are often prescribed to treat lupus, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarials, and corticosteroids. Combining alcohol with these medications can increase the risk of liver complications and stomach bleeding. Alcohol can also amplify the side effects of these meds, making us feel more tired or dizzy.

Does alcohol cause joint inflammation? Alcohol can exacerbate lupus-related skin flares, especially for someone who is sensitive. Plus, alcohol may exacerbate symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain, adding fuel to the lupus fire.

The Verdict: Possible Foe

The lupus-alcohol equation isn't one-size-fits-all. It's about knowledge, understanding your body, and making choices that support your well-being.

3. Multiple Sclerosis and Alcohol: Decoding the Connection


Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Once again, the body's defense system gets a bit too overzealous. In this case, it starts damaging the protective covering of nerve fibers (called myelin), leading to communication issues between the brain and the rest of the body.

MS can also lead to a range of symptoms that differ from person to person, but these are some common signs:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs
  • Electric-shock sensations with neck movement
  • Tremors, unsteady gait
  • Vision problems, including double vision or partial vision loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness

When it comes to MS and alcohol, things can get tricky. MS already stirs up issues with balance and coordination, and — as we all know — alcohol does, too. Plus, alcohol may not play nice with certain MS medications, so that's another hurdle to watch out for.

The Verdict: More Foe Than Friend

Moderate alcohol consumption does not appear to increase the risk of developing MS, nor does it seem to influence disease progression. However, the keyword here, once again, is "moderate." Binge drinking or consistent heavy drinking can have adverse effects on anyone's health, and with MS, the risks might be even more pronounced.

4. Psoriasis and Alcohol: Peeling Back the Layers

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition caused by accelerated skin cell growth, which causes thick, red, scaly patches to form on the skin. These patches can be itchy and sometimes painful. Imagine the skin's production line going into overdrive, causing a pile-up of cells on the surface. That is psoriasis in action.

Psoriasis can manifest in various forms, but here are some common signs:

  • Red patches covered with thick, silvery scales
  • Itchy, burning, or sore skin
  • Cracked, possibly bleeding skin
  • Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
  • Swollen, stiff joints (a sign of psoriatic arthritis)

Alcohol and psoriasis can be a tricky combination. Excessive alcohol consumption is known to trigger psoriasis outbreaks for some people. It can also interfere with the body's ability to process and eliminate medications used to treat psoriasis, rendering them less effective.

Moreover, alcohol can dehydrate the body, including the skin, possibly making psoriasis symptoms worse. And, in some cases, alcohol has been known to have an inflammatory effect which may potentially flare up psoriasis patches.

The Verdict: Mostly Foe

Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can trigger psoriasis flares and worsen symptoms. That’s why it’s essential for those living with this condition to drink mindfully and consider healthier options such as mocktails.

5. Type 1 Diabetes and Alcohol: Playing With Fire

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking and destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin allows glucose (sugar) from our food to enter our cells and provide energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes has some hallmark symptoms:

  • Frequent urination and excessive thirst
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Mood swings

What happens when type 1 diabetes and alcohol mix? This is a pairing that needs careful attention.

Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to release glucose, increasing the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) for those with type 1 diabetes. While it might initially elevate blood sugar, it can drop later on, especially if we’re taking insulin or other diabetes medications.

Additionally, many alcoholic beverages, especially cocktails, contain sugars and carbs that can spike blood sugar levels. It's essential to factor in these carbs as part of our overall daily intake.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can sometimes mirror the effects of too much alcohol: dizziness, disorientation, and sleepiness. This can make it challenging for those around us to distinguish between intoxication and a medical emergency.

When navigating the alcohol-diabetes combo, keep these points in mind:

  • Stay informed. Know how alcohol affects your blood sugar levels. Monitor it before drinking, while you drink, and for up to 24 hours after drinking.
  • Count your carbs. If your drink has carbohydrates, ensure you account for them in your daily carb count.
  • Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. This can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Opt for a balanced meal or snack beforehand.
  • Keep your company informed. Make sure someone you're with knows you have diabetes and understands the risk of hypoglycemia.
The Verdict: Foe

Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can mess with blood sugar and be potentially dangerous for those living with type 1 diabetes. Always consult with a healthcare provider, such as an endocrinologist, before imbibing when living with this condition.

6. Celiac Disease and Alcohol: Sifting Through the Details

Finally, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — that leads to damage in the small intestine when ingested by those who are sensitive to it. The body misinterprets gluten as a harmful invader and prompts the immune system to attack the inner lining of the small intestine, disrupting the absorption of vital nutrients.

Celiac can be a bit sneaky, presenting a wide array of symptoms. These are some of the common signs to look out for:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Skin rashes
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches and migraines

Where does alcohol stand in the world of celiac disease? Here’s the scoop.

The primary concern with celiac disease and alcohol is the source of the alcohol. Many alcoholic beverages, including beers, ales, lagers, malt beverages, and even some hard ciders, contain gluten. Consuming these would be a no-go for someone with celiac disease.

However, pure distilled spirits, even if they're made from wheat, barley, or rye, are considered gluten-free due to the distillation process. This means spirits like vodka, gin, and whiskey might be safe. Similarly, wines and some ciders are naturally gluten-free and safe for most people with celiac disease. But always read labels or check with manufacturers when in doubt.

The Verdict: Not Necessarily a Friend, But Not a Serious Foe

Considering a drink and living with celiac disease? Here's the mantra: be informed and vigilant. Not all alcoholic beverages will label their gluten content, so doing a bit of homework might be necessary. Additionally, always listen to your body; even gluten-free options might not sit well with everyone.

Diagram about the common autoimmune diseases

So … Can You Drink Alcohol With an Autoimmune Disease?

Well, as you can see, there's really no one-size-fits-all answer here. It all depends on the specific autoimmune disease, your overall health, and the type and amount of alcohol consumed. It’s essential to talk to professionals and take all these factors into consideration to make an informed decision.

Stepping Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

As you figure out how alcohol fits into your life — and whether or not it’s ultimately a no-go because of your autoimmune disease — here are some practical steps to navigate this journey:

  • Dialogue with your doctor. Discuss your questions with your healthcare provider, who can provide tailored advice based on your specific condition and treatment plan.
  • Mindful moderation. If given the green light, remember that moderation is key. The CDC defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Healthy substitutes. Explore non-alcoholic beverages that can still make your evening special. Herbal tea, fruit-infused water, or fancy mocktails can be refreshing alternatives.
  • Support system. Connect with friends, family, or support groups who understand your journey. Shared experiences and understanding make our lives sparkle.
  • Holistic health. Incorporate a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management into your routine. Health is all about balance and teamwork: there are lots of moving parts, and it’s up to us to figure out how to best fit them together.

Listening to the Body

All in all, understanding the interaction between autoimmune diseases and alcohol can be tricky, but ultimately it comes down to understanding your body’s unique needs. It requires patience, discernment, and an appreciation for the nuances. And remember —you're not alone!

Whether we're raising a glass of bubbly or a cup of herbal tea, let's toast to knowledge, health, and the confidence to make the best choices for our wellness.

Alcohol and Health
Popular
2023-06-02 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Popular
10 Healthy Things That Happen When You Stop Drinking for 30 Days
This is some text inside of a div block.

Wondering what you can expect when you quit drinking for a month? This blog post shares all of the wonderful benefits you can expect!

10 min read

How Can Reframe Help?

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

Read Full Article  →

Are you considering taking a break from alcohol consumption, or maybe you've already started your "dry" journey? If so, you're making a great decision for your overall health and well-being! There are many physical and mental benefits of abstaining from alcohol, even if it's just for a short period of time like 30 days. In this article, we'll explore 10 healthy things that happen when you stop drinking for a month, delving into greater detail on how these advantages can positively impact various aspects of your life.

1. Improved Sleep Quality

One of the first things you're likely to notice when you quit drinking is improved sleep quality. Alcohol is a well-known disruptor of sleep patterns, preventing you from getting a full night of restful sleep. Alcohol-induced sleep tends to be lighter and less restorative, with frequent waking throughout the night.

When you stop drinking, your body is better able to regulate its sleep cycles, which in turn helps you reap the benefits of deep, quality sleep. Better sleep means increased energy, improved concentration, and a more positive mood. You're likely to find that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead, rather than struggling with grogginess or fatigue.

2. Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus

Alcohol impairs cognitive function and decreases mental clarity by interfering with the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain. When you're hungover, it's common to feel foggy and have difficulty concentrating. Over time, regular alcohol consumption can even have long-term negative effects on your mental health like making anxiety and depression even worse.

By cutting out alcohol for 30 days, you may notice significantly improved mental function, focus, and memory. This newfound clarity can help you in all aspects of your life, including work performance, decision-making, and building stronger relationships.

3. Increased Energy Levels

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can lead to dehydration and essential nutrient depletion, leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued. By eliminating alcohol from your system, you'll likely experience increased energy levels.

With this newfound energy, you may find it easier to be more productive and active throughout the day. This, in turn, can lead to a more satisfying and well-rounded lifestyle that supports your overall health and well-being.

4. Reduction in Calorie Intake

One of the more immediate benefits of quitting alcohol is a reduction in calorie intake. Alcohol is full of empty calories, meaning it contains no essential nutrients even though it still contributes to your daily caloric intake. For example, a single 12-ounce beer can contain as many as 150 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of wine can have anywhere from 100-150 calories. Add those up and think how many thousands of calories you’ll save in a month!

By eliminating alcohol consumption for 30 days, you can easily reduce your overall calorie intake, which may lead to weight loss, improved body composition, and a healthier overall lifestyle. This reduction can be especially helpful for those looking to shed a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight.

10 positive health changes when you quit drinking alcohol

5. Improved Immune System Function

Chronic alcohol consumption has been linked to a weakened immune system, putting you at greater risk for illness and infection. Alcohol affects your internal organs’ effectiveness and it inhibits your body's ability to produce white blood cells, which are critical for fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses.

By abstaining from alcohol for 30 days, you'll give your immune system a chance to recover, helping it to better protect your body from illness. The improvement in your immune function can contribute to overall better health and a reduced likelihood of catching common colds or other infections.

6. Better Digestion and Gut Health

Alcohol consumption can have negative effects on your gut health, resulting in gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements. Heavy drinking can lead to irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining, impairing normal digestion.

By cutting out alcohol, you may experience improved digestion and gut health. As your stomach lining heals and inflammation subsides, you'll likely notice a more comfortable and efficient digestive system. In turn, this can lead to better nutrient absorption and overall improved well-being.

7. Healthier Skin

It's no secret that alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your skin. Dehydration and dilated blood vessels can result in skin that appears red, blotchy, and puffy. Additionally, alcohol can cause hormonal imbalances, which can exacerbate acne and other skin issues.

By quitting alcohol for 30 days, you may notice a drastic improvement in your skin's appearance. Better hydration, more balanced hormones, and reduced inflammation can all contribute to a clearer complexion. You might even find that your skin has a natural, healthy glow that was hidden underneath the effects of alcohol.

8. Improved Heart Health

Heavy alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. Alcohol raises blood pressure, which can strain your heart muscle and lead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, binge drinking can cause heart palpitations, which further increases the risk of cardiovascular complications.

By cutting out alcohol for 30 days, you'll give your heart a break from the stress alcohol puts on it. Lower blood pressure and reduced risk of irregular heartbeat can ultimately contribute to a healthier heart and a lower risk of cardiovascular issues in the future.

9. Positive Lifestyle Changes

By committing to an alcohol-free month, you're opening yourself up to the possibility of incorporating healthier habits into your daily life. For example, with your newfound mental clarity and increased energy levels, you may find it easier to make better choices when it comes to nutrition and exercise. This can lead to a domino effect of positive lifestyle changes that support your overall health.

In addition, you may also find that your social life starts to revolve less around alcohol consumption, which can be a positive change in terms of your relationships and personal well-being. Forming connections and memories without the presence of alcohol can be a transformative experience, building stronger bonds and creating more meaningful relationships.

10. Greater Sense of Well-Being and Self-Control

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of abstaining from alcohol for 30 days is the sense of accomplishment and self-control you're likely to experience. By completing a challenge such as this, you'll prove to yourself that you're capable of making positive changes in your life, ultimately boosting your self-esteem and confidence in your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Recognizing your strength and resilience in the face of temptation can also empower you to make other positive changes in your life, fostering a sense of well-being and personal growth that extends beyond the 30-day challenge.

Are you considering taking a break from alcohol consumption, or maybe you've already started your "dry" journey? If so, you're making a great decision for your overall health and well-being! There are many physical and mental benefits of abstaining from alcohol, even if it's just for a short period of time like 30 days. In this article, we'll explore 10 healthy things that happen when you stop drinking for a month, delving into greater detail on how these advantages can positively impact various aspects of your life.

1. Improved Sleep Quality

One of the first things you're likely to notice when you quit drinking is improved sleep quality. Alcohol is a well-known disruptor of sleep patterns, preventing you from getting a full night of restful sleep. Alcohol-induced sleep tends to be lighter and less restorative, with frequent waking throughout the night.

When you stop drinking, your body is better able to regulate its sleep cycles, which in turn helps you reap the benefits of deep, quality sleep. Better sleep means increased energy, improved concentration, and a more positive mood. You're likely to find that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead, rather than struggling with grogginess or fatigue.

2. Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus

Alcohol impairs cognitive function and decreases mental clarity by interfering with the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain. When you're hungover, it's common to feel foggy and have difficulty concentrating. Over time, regular alcohol consumption can even have long-term negative effects on your mental health like making anxiety and depression even worse.

By cutting out alcohol for 30 days, you may notice significantly improved mental function, focus, and memory. This newfound clarity can help you in all aspects of your life, including work performance, decision-making, and building stronger relationships.

3. Increased Energy Levels

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can lead to dehydration and essential nutrient depletion, leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued. By eliminating alcohol from your system, you'll likely experience increased energy levels.

With this newfound energy, you may find it easier to be more productive and active throughout the day. This, in turn, can lead to a more satisfying and well-rounded lifestyle that supports your overall health and well-being.

4. Reduction in Calorie Intake

One of the more immediate benefits of quitting alcohol is a reduction in calorie intake. Alcohol is full of empty calories, meaning it contains no essential nutrients even though it still contributes to your daily caloric intake. For example, a single 12-ounce beer can contain as many as 150 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of wine can have anywhere from 100-150 calories. Add those up and think how many thousands of calories you’ll save in a month!

By eliminating alcohol consumption for 30 days, you can easily reduce your overall calorie intake, which may lead to weight loss, improved body composition, and a healthier overall lifestyle. This reduction can be especially helpful for those looking to shed a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight.

10 positive health changes when you quit drinking alcohol

5. Improved Immune System Function

Chronic alcohol consumption has been linked to a weakened immune system, putting you at greater risk for illness and infection. Alcohol affects your internal organs’ effectiveness and it inhibits your body's ability to produce white blood cells, which are critical for fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses.

By abstaining from alcohol for 30 days, you'll give your immune system a chance to recover, helping it to better protect your body from illness. The improvement in your immune function can contribute to overall better health and a reduced likelihood of catching common colds or other infections.

6. Better Digestion and Gut Health

Alcohol consumption can have negative effects on your gut health, resulting in gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements. Heavy drinking can lead to irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining, impairing normal digestion.

By cutting out alcohol, you may experience improved digestion and gut health. As your stomach lining heals and inflammation subsides, you'll likely notice a more comfortable and efficient digestive system. In turn, this can lead to better nutrient absorption and overall improved well-being.

7. Healthier Skin

It's no secret that alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your skin. Dehydration and dilated blood vessels can result in skin that appears red, blotchy, and puffy. Additionally, alcohol can cause hormonal imbalances, which can exacerbate acne and other skin issues.

By quitting alcohol for 30 days, you may notice a drastic improvement in your skin's appearance. Better hydration, more balanced hormones, and reduced inflammation can all contribute to a clearer complexion. You might even find that your skin has a natural, healthy glow that was hidden underneath the effects of alcohol.

8. Improved Heart Health

Heavy alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. Alcohol raises blood pressure, which can strain your heart muscle and lead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, binge drinking can cause heart palpitations, which further increases the risk of cardiovascular complications.

By cutting out alcohol for 30 days, you'll give your heart a break from the stress alcohol puts on it. Lower blood pressure and reduced risk of irregular heartbeat can ultimately contribute to a healthier heart and a lower risk of cardiovascular issues in the future.

9. Positive Lifestyle Changes

By committing to an alcohol-free month, you're opening yourself up to the possibility of incorporating healthier habits into your daily life. For example, with your newfound mental clarity and increased energy levels, you may find it easier to make better choices when it comes to nutrition and exercise. This can lead to a domino effect of positive lifestyle changes that support your overall health.

In addition, you may also find that your social life starts to revolve less around alcohol consumption, which can be a positive change in terms of your relationships and personal well-being. Forming connections and memories without the presence of alcohol can be a transformative experience, building stronger bonds and creating more meaningful relationships.

10. Greater Sense of Well-Being and Self-Control

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of abstaining from alcohol for 30 days is the sense of accomplishment and self-control you're likely to experience. By completing a challenge such as this, you'll prove to yourself that you're capable of making positive changes in your life, ultimately boosting your self-esteem and confidence in your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Recognizing your strength and resilience in the face of temptation can also empower you to make other positive changes in your life, fostering a sense of well-being and personal growth that extends beyond the 30-day challenge.

Alcohol and Health
Popular
2022-06-13 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Popular
Alcohol-Induced Night Sweats: What They Are and How To Stop Them
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Night sweats after drinking: they happen to many of us, but they can be frustrating. So why does drinking alcohol cause night sweats? And what can we do about them? Let’s take a look at the science.

17 min read

Improve Your Overall Well-Being With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

Read Full Article  →

Alcohol has many adverse effects on our bodies and minds. There are the short-term discomforts like hangovers and “hangxiety,” as well as long-term effects on our physical and mental health. Today, we're discussing an issue that falls somewhere between the two: night sweats related to alcohol use.

How does alcohol use lead to night sweats? And what steps can be taken to prevent them? In this post, we’ll explore the causes of night sweats related to alcohol use and discuss how cutting back on or quitting alcohol can help.

What Are Night Sweats?

First, let's define night sweats. Night sweats are episodes of excessive sweating that occur during sleep, often leading to damp or soaked sheets and clothing. While occasional night sweats are normal, persistent night sweats can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or lifestyle factor, such as sweating at night after drinking.

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, leading to a range of physical and psychological effects. When we consume alcohol, it can cause our bodies to become dehydrated, leading to increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. These effects can contribute to night sweats, as our bodies attempt to regulate our temperature and maintain proper hydration levels during sleep.

In addition to dehydration, alcohol use can also lead to changes in our body's hormones and neurotransmitters, which can impact our sleep patterns and contribute to sweating at night after drinking. For example, alcohol can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can disrupt our sleep and lead to night sweats. It can also decrease the production of the hormone vasopressin, which regulates our body's fluid balance, leading to dehydration and increased thirst.

Night sweats are one of the many signals that we’re drinking too much. If we heed the warning signs early on, we can prevent this issue from persisting or leading to other health challenges.

Diagram about the symptoms of night sweats

What Are the Negative Effects of Alcohol-Induced Night Sweats?

Night sweats related to alcohol use can have negative consequences for both our physical and psychological health. Here are a few of the potential negative consequences of alcohol night sweats:

  • Dehydration. As we mentioned above, alcohol can cause dehydration, which can lead to increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. Night sweats can worsen dehydration, leading to further complications such as dry mouth, headache, and fatigue.
  • Disrupted sleep. Night sweats can lead to poor quality sleep and daytime fatigue. This can impact our ability to concentrate, make decisions, and perform everyday tasks.
  • Increased risk of infections. Night sweats can increase the risk of infections, particularly in people with weakened immune systems. This is because the damp sheets and clothing can create a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, increasing the risk of skin infections, respiratory infections, and other illnesses.
  • Emotional distress. Night sweats can be emotionally distressing, particularly if they occur frequently or disrupt our sleep. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological problems.

Preventing Alcohol Night Sweats

So, how can we prevent night sweats related to alcohol use? The most effective solution is to cut back on or quit drinking alcohol altogether. By reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption, our bodies can rehydrate, and regulating our fluid balance more effectively, and reducing the likelihood of night sweats.

Deciding to cut back or quit drinking alcohol can be difficult, but it's a powerful step towards improving your physical and mental health. Whether you are looking to reduce your alcohol consumption or quit altogether, there are steps you can take.

Set Clear Goals and Make a Plan

The first step in cutting back or quitting alcohol is to set clear goals and make a plan. This might involve setting limits on the amount and frequency of alcohol you consume, or it could mean committing to abstaining from alcohol altogether. Whatever your goals, it's important to be specific and measurable. For example, instead of saying "I want to drink less," you might set a goal to only have one drink per day, or to go alcohol-free for a month.

Once you have set your goals, make a plan to achieve them. This might involve finding alternative, alcohol-free ways to socialize or manage stress, such as taking up a new hobby or joining a sober social group. You might also consider enlisting the support of friends or family members who can help you stay accountable to your goals.

Find Alternative Coping Strategies

Many people turn to alcohol as a way of coping with stress or difficult emotions. If you’re trying to cut back or quit drinking, it's important to find alternative coping strategies to manage these feelings in a healthy way. This might involve learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, or finding physical activities that release tension and boost your mood, such as yoga or running.

You might also consider seeking support from a mental health professional, who can help you develop coping strategies and address any underlying emotional or psychological issues that may be contributing to your alcohol use. With the right support and strategies in place, you can manage your emotions in a healthy way and reduce your dependence on alcohol.

Create a Supportive Environment

Finally, it's important to create a supportive environment that can help you achieve your goals. This might involve avoiding situations or people that trigger your desire to drink, or finding friends and social groups who are supportive of your decision to cut back or quit drinking. You might also consider finding a support group or seeking counseling to connect with others who are on a similar journey.

In addition to creating a supportive environment, take care of yourself in other ways that can improve your overall health and well-being: get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and practice good sleep hygiene. By taking care of your body and mind, you can reduce the impact of alcohol on your physical and psychological health, and enjoy greater success in cutting back or quitting alcohol.

Alcohol has many adverse effects on our bodies and minds. There are the short-term discomforts like hangovers and “hangxiety,” as well as long-term effects on our physical and mental health. Today, we're discussing an issue that falls somewhere between the two: night sweats related to alcohol use.

How does alcohol use lead to night sweats? And what steps can be taken to prevent them? In this post, we’ll explore the causes of night sweats related to alcohol use and discuss how cutting back on or quitting alcohol can help.

What Are Night Sweats?

First, let's define night sweats. Night sweats are episodes of excessive sweating that occur during sleep, often leading to damp or soaked sheets and clothing. While occasional night sweats are normal, persistent night sweats can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or lifestyle factor, such as sweating at night after drinking.

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, leading to a range of physical and psychological effects. When we consume alcohol, it can cause our bodies to become dehydrated, leading to increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. These effects can contribute to night sweats, as our bodies attempt to regulate our temperature and maintain proper hydration levels during sleep.

In addition to dehydration, alcohol use can also lead to changes in our body's hormones and neurotransmitters, which can impact our sleep patterns and contribute to sweating at night after drinking. For example, alcohol can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can disrupt our sleep and lead to night sweats. It can also decrease the production of the hormone vasopressin, which regulates our body's fluid balance, leading to dehydration and increased thirst.

Night sweats are one of the many signals that we’re drinking too much. If we heed the warning signs early on, we can prevent this issue from persisting or leading to other health challenges.

Diagram about the symptoms of night sweats

What Are the Negative Effects of Alcohol-Induced Night Sweats?

Night sweats related to alcohol use can have negative consequences for both our physical and psychological health. Here are a few of the potential negative consequences of alcohol night sweats:

  • Dehydration. As we mentioned above, alcohol can cause dehydration, which can lead to increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. Night sweats can worsen dehydration, leading to further complications such as dry mouth, headache, and fatigue.
  • Disrupted sleep. Night sweats can lead to poor quality sleep and daytime fatigue. This can impact our ability to concentrate, make decisions, and perform everyday tasks.
  • Increased risk of infections. Night sweats can increase the risk of infections, particularly in people with weakened immune systems. This is because the damp sheets and clothing can create a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, increasing the risk of skin infections, respiratory infections, and other illnesses.
  • Emotional distress. Night sweats can be emotionally distressing, particularly if they occur frequently or disrupt our sleep. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological problems.

Preventing Alcohol Night Sweats

So, how can we prevent night sweats related to alcohol use? The most effective solution is to cut back on or quit drinking alcohol altogether. By reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption, our bodies can rehydrate, and regulating our fluid balance more effectively, and reducing the likelihood of night sweats.

Deciding to cut back or quit drinking alcohol can be difficult, but it's a powerful step towards improving your physical and mental health. Whether you are looking to reduce your alcohol consumption or quit altogether, there are steps you can take.

Set Clear Goals and Make a Plan

The first step in cutting back or quitting alcohol is to set clear goals and make a plan. This might involve setting limits on the amount and frequency of alcohol you consume, or it could mean committing to abstaining from alcohol altogether. Whatever your goals, it's important to be specific and measurable. For example, instead of saying "I want to drink less," you might set a goal to only have one drink per day, or to go alcohol-free for a month.

Once you have set your goals, make a plan to achieve them. This might involve finding alternative, alcohol-free ways to socialize or manage stress, such as taking up a new hobby or joining a sober social group. You might also consider enlisting the support of friends or family members who can help you stay accountable to your goals.

Find Alternative Coping Strategies

Many people turn to alcohol as a way of coping with stress or difficult emotions. If you’re trying to cut back or quit drinking, it's important to find alternative coping strategies to manage these feelings in a healthy way. This might involve learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, or finding physical activities that release tension and boost your mood, such as yoga or running.

You might also consider seeking support from a mental health professional, who can help you develop coping strategies and address any underlying emotional or psychological issues that may be contributing to your alcohol use. With the right support and strategies in place, you can manage your emotions in a healthy way and reduce your dependence on alcohol.

Create a Supportive Environment

Finally, it's important to create a supportive environment that can help you achieve your goals. This might involve avoiding situations or people that trigger your desire to drink, or finding friends and social groups who are supportive of your decision to cut back or quit drinking. You might also consider finding a support group or seeking counseling to connect with others who are on a similar journey.

In addition to creating a supportive environment, take care of yourself in other ways that can improve your overall health and well-being: get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and practice good sleep hygiene. By taking care of your body and mind, you can reduce the impact of alcohol on your physical and psychological health, and enjoy greater success in cutting back or quitting alcohol.

Alcohol and Health
Popular
2024-06-07 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Does Alcohol Make Shingles Worse?
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Does alcohol make shingles worse? Can you drink alcohol with shingles? And what are the potential pitfalls? Find out in our latest blog!

22 min read

Ready To Change Your Relationship With Alcohol? Reframe Can Help!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

Read Full Article  →

Shingles and Alcohol: A Dangerous Mix?

Imagine this: you wake up one day with an awful rash on your neck. You run through a mental list of possible causes. That new office plant? Some poison ivy you somehow managed to stumble into on your way home? Are you allergic to the new mohair sweater you got for Christmas? And while you start off hoping for the best (it’ll go away, right?) it doesn’t get better. Now it’s been days of feeling like everything you’re wearing (even your flannel pajamas) is made of sandpaper soaked in acid, and you finally get a diagnosis from your doctor — you’ve got shingles.

Shingles can be a real pain, and thousands of others are feeling that same pain right along with you. In fact, according to the CDC, as many as 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles at some point in their lives. Luckily, there’s a vaccine, as well as treatment for it. You won’t have to feel “like a human pin cushion” (as one vaccination campaign poster describes it) forever.

But in the meantime, you might be curious to know what happens if we add alcohol to the mix. Can you drink alcohol with shingles? Or does alcohol make shingles worse? Let’s unravel the mystery behind shingles and alcohol and see what science has to say!

Shingles as the Chickenpox Virus Reactivated: A Blast From the Past

Close-up of hands showing irritated skin with red, bumpy rash

Shingles, known officially as herpes zoster (not the other kind of herpes), is actually the unwelcome “ghost of chickenpox past.” It’s the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in people who have had chickenpox. (For those wondering if you can still get shingles after being vaccinated against chickenpox, the answer, according to the CDC, is yes, you can. But it’s a lot less common.)  

That said, shingles isn’t exactly chickenpox reincarnated — it’s a different condition caused by the same virus. Here’s how Penn Family Medicine physician Durvi Patel describes it: “The body’s first exposure to the virus leads to chickenpox. Shingles is the consequence of having the virus reactivate in the body later on. Shingles is contagious, but it is the virus that is transmittable, not shingles.” 

Shingles can happen to anyone, but there are a few risk factors that make some folks especially vulnerable:

  • Age. Older adults are especially at risk due to age-related immune system glitches, which tend to make them vulnerable to infections. For that reason, the CDC recommends that everyone over 60 get vaccinated against shingles.
  • A compromised immune system. Those with compromised immune systems — for example, people with HIV — are also more vulnerable than others.
  • Stress. Stress or illness can serve as a trigger. A Journal of Clinical Virology study found a connection between the development of shingles and a “negative life event.”
  • Nutrition. Our diet is also a factor. According to an International Journal of Epidemiology study, eating fruit significantly lowers the risk of developing shingles: those who ate less than one fruit serving per week had three times the risk. (So load up on those oranges and grapes!)

When an Itch Isn’t Just an Itch

According to the CDC, shingles shows up as a persistent, blistery rash on one side of the body or face. It usually starts to scab over in 7 to 10 days and clears up fully within a couple of weeks to a month. And while most people will only get it once (phew!), the unlucky few might experience two or more flare-ups. 

But while shingles certainly won’t last forever and can sometimes go away on its own, we really don’t want to leave it up to fate, as this Harvard Health Publishing article explains. If that rash is, indeed, caused by herpes zoster, we should see a doctor and get treatment. Why? By turning a blind eye, we risk certain complications.

  • Persistent pain. There’s a possibility of long-term pain — known as postherpetic neuralgia — that can linger for a few months to a year. According to the CDC, about 10% to 18% of people with shingles will develop this complication.
  • An itch that keeps on itching. We could be looking at prolonged itching, which can be just as uncomfortable (and is usually focused on the head and neck area).
  • Vision and hearing problems. We could even end up damaging our vision and hearing if we let shingles go untreated for too long, especially if the rash is near our eyes or ears.
  • Risk of stroke of heart attack. Worst case scenario? Our risk of having a stroke or heart attack goes up. As a PLOS study found, both risks more than double in the first week after diagnosis for those 65 and older.

So, Does Alcohol Make Shingles Worse?

How does alcohol fit into the picture? The story boils down to four parts: alcohol’s interaction with shingles treatment, its impact on the immune system, its possible interaction with the herpes virus itself, and its effect on symptoms. Let’s unpack these reasons further to see just why shingles and alcohol are not a good mix.

1. Alcohol and Shingles Medication: Itching for Trouble

For one thing, alcohol doesn’t mix well with shingles medications. The combination can set us up for some unpleasant surprises. It mentions that while the medication bottles for antivirals used to treat shingles might not include a no-booze warning, it’s still best to avoid the mix, since alcohol can make some meds less effective while increasing the risk of uncomfortable and potentially dangerous side effects. Let’s look at these medications in a bit more detail.

The first line of treatment includes medications such as Acyclovir (Zovirax), Famciclovir, and Valacyclovir (Valtrex). All three can help alleviate symptoms as well as prevent future outbreaks by keeping the shingles-causing virus from replicating.

  • Acyclovir is the OG of the “cyclovirs” and has been around since the 1970s. It throws a wrench in the viral DNA replication process by targeting guanine, one of the four nucleotides that make up the gene-encoding sequence.
  • Valacyclovir is an updated version of Acyclovir developed in 1995. Like Acyclovir, it’s mostly used to treat herpes simplex — the virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. In fact, Valacyclovir turns into Acyclovir in the body and works in a very similar way (but requires fewer doses).
  • Famciclovir, on the other hand, is used more frequently to treat shingles than other forms of herpes. Another Acyclovir cousin, Famciclovir is an “updated” version of the medication that is absorbed by the body more easily.

There are other treatments as well. 

  • Capsaicin topical patch (Qutenza)
  • Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (such as Neurontin, Gralise, and Horizant)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (such as amitriptyline)
  • Numbing agents (such as lidocaine, in the form of a cream, gel, spray, or skin patch)
  • An injection (including corticosteroids and local anesthetics)

2. Alcohol and the Immune System: Defenses Down 

Another part of the problem? The impact of alcohol on our ability to fight off infections, including the virus that causes shingles.

It’s no secret that alcohol can wreak havoc on our immune system. (For an in-depth look, check out our blog “Alcohol's Impact on the Immune System.”) The connection was originally discovered decades ago, in the context of alcohol’s influence on pneumonia. However, in recent years scientists have found evidence of alcohol’s effects on many other conditions, including sepsis, liver disease, and even certain cancers. Moreover, there’s plenty of evidence to show it slows down the process of healing from infections, injuries, and physical trauma in general.

According to an article in Alcohol Research, alcohol weakens the immune system in three ways: 

  • It makes it harder to fight off infection by affecting innate and adaptive immunity.
  • It contributes to organ damage via chronic inflammation.
  • It makes recovery and tissue regeneration more difficult.

One of the first points of entry (where damage to the immune system begins) is actually the GI tract. Alcohol disrupts the gut microbiome while damaging epithelial cells, T cells, and neutrophils in the GI system, disrupting gut barrier function and facilitating leakage of microbes into the circulation.

3. Alcohol and Shingles: A Direct Attack

One study in the Central European Journal of Medicine found a possibility of a direct connection between shingles and alcohol. The people in the shingles group showed a much higher level of alcohol consumption compared to the control group. The correlation, in turn, could eventually help scientists understand aspects of the mechanism behind the disease that remain a mystery. For now, however, it’s worth keeping the possible connection in mind as we consider the relationship between alcohol and shingles.

4. Alcohol and Shingles Symptoms: Double Trouble

Finally, alcohol doesn’t do us any favors when it comes to dealing with the symptoms of shingles.

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is notoriously dehydrating, leaving us with dry skin that can amp up the irritation.
  • Pain. While booze might take the edge off our shingles-related pain for a short while, chances are it’ll come back to haunt us later.
  • Sleep trouble. In a similar way, while a drink might make us initially drowsy, it interferes with our sleep quality by causing middle-of-the-night disruptions and robbing us of the most restorative REM phase of sleep. And since rest is essential for recovery, the result could mean a longer healing process.

How Much Is “Too Much”?

Will a night out trigger an outbreak or slow down your recovery from shingles? As we’ve seen, research does point towards alcohol affecting how quickly you bounce back.

And while the effect is probably more cumulative when it comes to triggering shingles, studies show that a stressful event can do the trick. It’s also important to keep in mind that drinking doesn’t have to be chronic to have a negative effect on immunity. In fact, occasional binge drinking — defined as having 5 or more drinks at one occasion for men and 4 or more for women — can be just as damaging. What does this mean for us? It’s hard to know for sure, but it’s safe to say that a particularly stressful night out could, in theory, lower our body’s defenses and cause an outbreak.

Is there a “best” alcohol to drink with herpes zoster, if we’re set on going out? Once again, individual factors might come into play, but overall the answer is that one type isn’t necessarily safer than another. Overall, it’s best to stay away from booze altogether until we’re feeling better.

How Can I Treat Shingles at Home?

Many of us hope to find some ways to treat shingles at home, and there are, indeed, a few tricks that have a track record of bringing relief. Others, on the other hand, not so much.

For example, will rubbing alcohol dry up shingles? It’s unlikely. Rubbing alcohol will probably just irritate the wound, causing a burning feeling. And with the virus already at work inside the body, a surface treatment won’t lead to faster recovery.  

That said, Listerine seems to help ease the discomfort. The Seattle Times published this reader comment recently: “It took about a week or two, but the Listerine got rid of that terrible pain. I didn’t develop blisters.” Another reader reported a similar experience in the past: “The itching stopped, the rash disappeared and the pain went away for good.”

As for the Seattle Times editors, the reports have them a bit stumped: “We have no idea why Listerine might be helpful against shingles pain. We could find no research in the medical literature, though some doctors seem to know about this home remedy.” Still — there seems to be no harm in it, so whatever works!

Tip: If Listerine doesn’t do it for you, try some homemade baking soda or cornstarch paste. Mix 2 parts of either ingredient with 1 part water and apply to the rash for about 10-15 minutes. Another old-time favorite from the days of chickenpox? A warm bath with some soothing Epsom salts.

Advice for Coping With Shingles

Advice for Coping With Shingles (and Cutting Back on Booze)

If you’re struggling to stay away from alcohol during this time, here are some tips to make it a bit easier.

  • Put your health first. Self-care is key, and when we’re fighting off an infection, that’s more true than ever. Make sure to nourish your body with nutritious food, hydrate, and get plenty of rest. When getting over shingles in particular, make sure to include plenty of orange and yellow fruits, leafy green vegetables, good sources of protein (eggs, chicken, or wild-caught fish), whole grains, legumes, and tomatoes.

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions. It’s important to get shingles checked out by a doctor, so make sure you follow their advice, especially when it comes to taking medication.

  • Explore other options. There’s plenty of fun to be had out there without alcohol! Explore the world of mocktails, host a booze-free movie night (just not when you’re contagious), or spend time outdoors. 

  • Try to see this challenge as an opportunity. Why not use this break from alcohol as a chance to get sober-curious? Instead of seeing it as a restriction, try to look at it as an opportunity to explore the world beyond booze. Notice any changes you feel. Maybe you’re waking up more clearheaded? Getting better quality rest? Who knows, you might just decide that you want to keep exploring!

Summing Up

In the words of writer C. JoyBell C., “Pain is a pesky part of being human … something I wish we could all do without, in our lives here.” And it’s true, we can’t escape pain. Still, as C. JoyBell C. goes on to say, pain allows us to feel the freedom of healing, which “feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air! We may not have wings growing out of our backs, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that wind against our faces.”

So, while shingles may, indeed, be quite a pain in our side (literally), remember that this is temporary and that healing is just around the corner. Here at Reframe, we’re cheering for you and wishing you the best with healing from shingles as well as when it comes to reexamining your relationship with alcohol.

Shingles and Alcohol: A Dangerous Mix?

Imagine this: you wake up one day with an awful rash on your neck. You run through a mental list of possible causes. That new office plant? Some poison ivy you somehow managed to stumble into on your way home? Are you allergic to the new mohair sweater you got for Christmas? And while you start off hoping for the best (it’ll go away, right?) it doesn’t get better. Now it’s been days of feeling like everything you’re wearing (even your flannel pajamas) is made of sandpaper soaked in acid, and you finally get a diagnosis from your doctor — you’ve got shingles.

Shingles can be a real pain, and thousands of others are feeling that same pain right along with you. In fact, according to the CDC, as many as 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles at some point in their lives. Luckily, there’s a vaccine, as well as treatment for it. You won’t have to feel “like a human pin cushion” (as one vaccination campaign poster describes it) forever.

But in the meantime, you might be curious to know what happens if we add alcohol to the mix. Can you drink alcohol with shingles? Or does alcohol make shingles worse? Let’s unravel the mystery behind shingles and alcohol and see what science has to say!

Shingles as the Chickenpox Virus Reactivated: A Blast From the Past

Close-up of hands showing irritated skin with red, bumpy rash

Shingles, known officially as herpes zoster (not the other kind of herpes), is actually the unwelcome “ghost of chickenpox past.” It’s the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in people who have had chickenpox. (For those wondering if you can still get shingles after being vaccinated against chickenpox, the answer, according to the CDC, is yes, you can. But it’s a lot less common.)  

That said, shingles isn’t exactly chickenpox reincarnated — it’s a different condition caused by the same virus. Here’s how Penn Family Medicine physician Durvi Patel describes it: “The body’s first exposure to the virus leads to chickenpox. Shingles is the consequence of having the virus reactivate in the body later on. Shingles is contagious, but it is the virus that is transmittable, not shingles.” 

Shingles can happen to anyone, but there are a few risk factors that make some folks especially vulnerable:

  • Age. Older adults are especially at risk due to age-related immune system glitches, which tend to make them vulnerable to infections. For that reason, the CDC recommends that everyone over 60 get vaccinated against shingles.
  • A compromised immune system. Those with compromised immune systems — for example, people with HIV — are also more vulnerable than others.
  • Stress. Stress or illness can serve as a trigger. A Journal of Clinical Virology study found a connection between the development of shingles and a “negative life event.”
  • Nutrition. Our diet is also a factor. According to an International Journal of Epidemiology study, eating fruit significantly lowers the risk of developing shingles: those who ate less than one fruit serving per week had three times the risk. (So load up on those oranges and grapes!)

When an Itch Isn’t Just an Itch

According to the CDC, shingles shows up as a persistent, blistery rash on one side of the body or face. It usually starts to scab over in 7 to 10 days and clears up fully within a couple of weeks to a month. And while most people will only get it once (phew!), the unlucky few might experience two or more flare-ups. 

But while shingles certainly won’t last forever and can sometimes go away on its own, we really don’t want to leave it up to fate, as this Harvard Health Publishing article explains. If that rash is, indeed, caused by herpes zoster, we should see a doctor and get treatment. Why? By turning a blind eye, we risk certain complications.

  • Persistent pain. There’s a possibility of long-term pain — known as postherpetic neuralgia — that can linger for a few months to a year. According to the CDC, about 10% to 18% of people with shingles will develop this complication.
  • An itch that keeps on itching. We could be looking at prolonged itching, which can be just as uncomfortable (and is usually focused on the head and neck area).
  • Vision and hearing problems. We could even end up damaging our vision and hearing if we let shingles go untreated for too long, especially if the rash is near our eyes or ears.
  • Risk of stroke of heart attack. Worst case scenario? Our risk of having a stroke or heart attack goes up. As a PLOS study found, both risks more than double in the first week after diagnosis for those 65 and older.

So, Does Alcohol Make Shingles Worse?

How does alcohol fit into the picture? The story boils down to four parts: alcohol’s interaction with shingles treatment, its impact on the immune system, its possible interaction with the herpes virus itself, and its effect on symptoms. Let’s unpack these reasons further to see just why shingles and alcohol are not a good mix.

1. Alcohol and Shingles Medication: Itching for Trouble

For one thing, alcohol doesn’t mix well with shingles medications. The combination can set us up for some unpleasant surprises. It mentions that while the medication bottles for antivirals used to treat shingles might not include a no-booze warning, it’s still best to avoid the mix, since alcohol can make some meds less effective while increasing the risk of uncomfortable and potentially dangerous side effects. Let’s look at these medications in a bit more detail.

The first line of treatment includes medications such as Acyclovir (Zovirax), Famciclovir, and Valacyclovir (Valtrex). All three can help alleviate symptoms as well as prevent future outbreaks by keeping the shingles-causing virus from replicating.

  • Acyclovir is the OG of the “cyclovirs” and has been around since the 1970s. It throws a wrench in the viral DNA replication process by targeting guanine, one of the four nucleotides that make up the gene-encoding sequence.
  • Valacyclovir is an updated version of Acyclovir developed in 1995. Like Acyclovir, it’s mostly used to treat herpes simplex — the virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. In fact, Valacyclovir turns into Acyclovir in the body and works in a very similar way (but requires fewer doses).
  • Famciclovir, on the other hand, is used more frequently to treat shingles than other forms of herpes. Another Acyclovir cousin, Famciclovir is an “updated” version of the medication that is absorbed by the body more easily.

There are other treatments as well. 

  • Capsaicin topical patch (Qutenza)
  • Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (such as Neurontin, Gralise, and Horizant)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (such as amitriptyline)
  • Numbing agents (such as lidocaine, in the form of a cream, gel, spray, or skin patch)
  • An injection (including corticosteroids and local anesthetics)

2. Alcohol and the Immune System: Defenses Down 

Another part of the problem? The impact of alcohol on our ability to fight off infections, including the virus that causes shingles.

It’s no secret that alcohol can wreak havoc on our immune system. (For an in-depth look, check out our blog “Alcohol's Impact on the Immune System.”) The connection was originally discovered decades ago, in the context of alcohol’s influence on pneumonia. However, in recent years scientists have found evidence of alcohol’s effects on many other conditions, including sepsis, liver disease, and even certain cancers. Moreover, there’s plenty of evidence to show it slows down the process of healing from infections, injuries, and physical trauma in general.

According to an article in Alcohol Research, alcohol weakens the immune system in three ways: 

  • It makes it harder to fight off infection by affecting innate and adaptive immunity.
  • It contributes to organ damage via chronic inflammation.
  • It makes recovery and tissue regeneration more difficult.

One of the first points of entry (where damage to the immune system begins) is actually the GI tract. Alcohol disrupts the gut microbiome while damaging epithelial cells, T cells, and neutrophils in the GI system, disrupting gut barrier function and facilitating leakage of microbes into the circulation.

3. Alcohol and Shingles: A Direct Attack

One study in the Central European Journal of Medicine found a possibility of a direct connection between shingles and alcohol. The people in the shingles group showed a much higher level of alcohol consumption compared to the control group. The correlation, in turn, could eventually help scientists understand aspects of the mechanism behind the disease that remain a mystery. For now, however, it’s worth keeping the possible connection in mind as we consider the relationship between alcohol and shingles.

4. Alcohol and Shingles Symptoms: Double Trouble

Finally, alcohol doesn’t do us any favors when it comes to dealing with the symptoms of shingles.

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is notoriously dehydrating, leaving us with dry skin that can amp up the irritation.
  • Pain. While booze might take the edge off our shingles-related pain for a short while, chances are it’ll come back to haunt us later.
  • Sleep trouble. In a similar way, while a drink might make us initially drowsy, it interferes with our sleep quality by causing middle-of-the-night disruptions and robbing us of the most restorative REM phase of sleep. And since rest is essential for recovery, the result could mean a longer healing process.

How Much Is “Too Much”?

Will a night out trigger an outbreak or slow down your recovery from shingles? As we’ve seen, research does point towards alcohol affecting how quickly you bounce back.

And while the effect is probably more cumulative when it comes to triggering shingles, studies show that a stressful event can do the trick. It’s also important to keep in mind that drinking doesn’t have to be chronic to have a negative effect on immunity. In fact, occasional binge drinking — defined as having 5 or more drinks at one occasion for men and 4 or more for women — can be just as damaging. What does this mean for us? It’s hard to know for sure, but it’s safe to say that a particularly stressful night out could, in theory, lower our body’s defenses and cause an outbreak.

Is there a “best” alcohol to drink with herpes zoster, if we’re set on going out? Once again, individual factors might come into play, but overall the answer is that one type isn’t necessarily safer than another. Overall, it’s best to stay away from booze altogether until we’re feeling better.

How Can I Treat Shingles at Home?

Many of us hope to find some ways to treat shingles at home, and there are, indeed, a few tricks that have a track record of bringing relief. Others, on the other hand, not so much.

For example, will rubbing alcohol dry up shingles? It’s unlikely. Rubbing alcohol will probably just irritate the wound, causing a burning feeling. And with the virus already at work inside the body, a surface treatment won’t lead to faster recovery.  

That said, Listerine seems to help ease the discomfort. The Seattle Times published this reader comment recently: “It took about a week or two, but the Listerine got rid of that terrible pain. I didn’t develop blisters.” Another reader reported a similar experience in the past: “The itching stopped, the rash disappeared and the pain went away for good.”

As for the Seattle Times editors, the reports have them a bit stumped: “We have no idea why Listerine might be helpful against shingles pain. We could find no research in the medical literature, though some doctors seem to know about this home remedy.” Still — there seems to be no harm in it, so whatever works!

Tip: If Listerine doesn’t do it for you, try some homemade baking soda or cornstarch paste. Mix 2 parts of either ingredient with 1 part water and apply to the rash for about 10-15 minutes. Another old-time favorite from the days of chickenpox? A warm bath with some soothing Epsom salts.

Advice for Coping With Shingles

Advice for Coping With Shingles (and Cutting Back on Booze)

If you’re struggling to stay away from alcohol during this time, here are some tips to make it a bit easier.

  • Put your health first. Self-care is key, and when we’re fighting off an infection, that’s more true than ever. Make sure to nourish your body with nutritious food, hydrate, and get plenty of rest. When getting over shingles in particular, make sure to include plenty of orange and yellow fruits, leafy green vegetables, good sources of protein (eggs, chicken, or wild-caught fish), whole grains, legumes, and tomatoes.

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions. It’s important to get shingles checked out by a doctor, so make sure you follow their advice, especially when it comes to taking medication.

  • Explore other options. There’s plenty of fun to be had out there without alcohol! Explore the world of mocktails, host a booze-free movie night (just not when you’re contagious), or spend time outdoors. 

  • Try to see this challenge as an opportunity. Why not use this break from alcohol as a chance to get sober-curious? Instead of seeing it as a restriction, try to look at it as an opportunity to explore the world beyond booze. Notice any changes you feel. Maybe you’re waking up more clearheaded? Getting better quality rest? Who knows, you might just decide that you want to keep exploring!

Summing Up

In the words of writer C. JoyBell C., “Pain is a pesky part of being human … something I wish we could all do without, in our lives here.” And it’s true, we can’t escape pain. Still, as C. JoyBell C. goes on to say, pain allows us to feel the freedom of healing, which “feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air! We may not have wings growing out of our backs, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that wind against our faces.”

So, while shingles may, indeed, be quite a pain in our side (literally), remember that this is temporary and that healing is just around the corner. Here at Reframe, we’re cheering for you and wishing you the best with healing from shingles as well as when it comes to reexamining your relationship with alcohol.

Alcohol and Health
2024-07-11 9:00
Alcohol and Health
How Alcohol Impacts Tinnitus
This is some text inside of a div block.

Do your ears ring after drinking? The booze could be causing the buzzing! Learn all about alcohol, tinnitus, and what you can do to quiet the ringing in our latest blog.

14 min read

Cut Back on Booze and Quiet the Buzzing With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

Read Full Article  →

Alcohol and Tinnitus: The Reason for the Ringing

If you’ve had this experience firsthand, you know how unnerving it can be. You’re chilling on your couch, minding your own business as you scroll through your Facebook updates. Suddenly, you hear a ringing. What is this? A new app feature? A carbon monoxide alarm that’s low on batteries? You check every possible source to no avail. There’s no outside cause. The ringing is coming “from inside the house” — or, more precisely, from inside your ears. 

Yikes! What caused this unrelenting buzz, and, most importantly, how can you stop it? Known as tinnitus, the ringing is a common phenomenon (and a maddening one, at that). But did you know that alcohol and tinnitus share a link? If you’ve ever noticed your ears ringing after drinking, it’s time to take a closer look at the science behind it.

Let’s Talk Tinnitus

A man grimacing in pain while holding his head with both hands

Irish playwright Richard Steele writes, “I have often lamented that we cannot close our ears with as much ease as [with] which we close our eyes.” And boy, do those of us who have tinnitus agree.

Symptoms of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the medical term for hearing sounds (usually ringing) that are not actually there. Individual symptoms can vary — some hear sounds in one ear, while others hear them in both, and some hear them somewhere else in the head. For some people, moving their head or other parts of the body might trigger the sound — a phenomenon called “somatosensory tinnitus.”

According to NIH, most people describe tinnitus as a ringing sound. However, the full playlist of possible sounds includes many others: 

  • Roaring
  • Buzzing
  • Whistling
  • Humming
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Squealing
  • Whooshing
  • Shrieking

Thankfully, we typically experience only one of the sounds at a time. That said, having one of these phantom “ringtones” is fairly common. Nearly 15% of people experience tinnitus! And, as it turns out, children can have it, too. 

For both kids and adults, tinnitus might improve or disappear with time, but not always: occasionally, it gets worse with time. When the noise doesn’t stop for 3 months or longer, it’s considered chronic.

The pitch, volume, and complexity of the sounds can be as varied as the ears they haunt. Some people even hear full-on symphonies and other auditory hallucinations or “phantoms” along with tinnitus.

Types of Tinnitus

While most tinnitus cases are known for the persistent ringing, there are two different types:

  • Subjective. By far the most common type, subjective tinnitus involves noises only you can hear.
  • Objective. In this case, internal functions in the cardiovascular or musculoskeletal system create the sound, making it audible through a stethoscope.

Despite their differences, both are equally bothersome and leave us scrambling for answers.  

Tinnitus Causes

What causes tinnitus? That’s the million-dollar question. Frustrating as it is, it’s largely a medical mystery, but here are several suspects on the list of potential causes:

  • Noise exposure. Many of us might experience tinnitus after loud noise exposure at work or a loud event, such as a concert or sports game. It’s also common in war veterans who have been exposed to loud gunfire and bomb blasts. 
  • Stress or trauma. An injury to the head or neck can damage parts of the ear or the nerves involved in transmitting sound signals to the brain. This can “turn up the volume” on any incoming signals. According to the NIH, the effect is a bit like “phantom limb pain in an amputee,” with the brain compensating for missing signals.
  • Ear problems. Sometimes tinnitus is caused by something as simple as ear wax or fluid from an ear infection that blocks the ear canal. It can also be linked to Ménière’s disease — a disorder of the inner ear that leads to balance problems and hearing difficulties.
  • Other illnesses. Other illnesses can sometimes trigger tinnitus, even if they don’t originate in the ear. For example, jaw problems resulting from teeth grinding could be the culprit. Blood pressure fluctuations can also be a trigger.
  • Some medications. Occasionally, tinnitus can be caused by certain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin), antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, antimalarial drugs, and some antidepressant medications.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol is on the suspect list of many conditions, including tinnitus. Drinking can potentially cause tinnitus or make it worse.

This last one is why we’re here today. Are alcohol and tinnitus connected? And if so, how?

How Alcohol Impacts Tinnitus

The link between alcohol and tinnitus has puzzled scientists for quite a while. Can alcohol cause tinnitus? And does alcohol make tinnitus worse? Some studies came back inconclusive. For example, one recent study investigated the effects of smoking, alcohol, body mass index, and caffeine intake on tinnitus. While smoking was clearly linked, the same couldn’t be said for alcohol.

Still, there are several objective reasons why alcohol and tinnitus are, indeed, linked. Put simply: if you drank enough to have “the spins,” you may experience tinnitus. 

What if you already have tinnitus, will alcohol make it worse? The answer, once again, is yes. Here’s why:

  • Alcohol contains ototoxic compounds. Ototoxic compounds damage the ear and can degrade the stereocilia (tiny hairs that vibrate to transmit signals to the brain). 
  • Alcohol can impact the neurological processes involved in hearing. When booze is in our system, our neurological processes go haywire. In addition to making us call our exes to leave embarrassing messages or forgetting the names of people we met five minutes ago, it can also interfere with pathways involved in hearing, sometimes leading to tinnitus.
  • Alcohol disrupts our blood pressure. Remember how we said blood pressure fluctuations can trigger tinnitus in some people? Well, alcohol is notorious for causing vasodilation — the widening of blood vessels — which initially increases blood flow to different body parts, including the ears. This can temporarily increase inner ear fluid, triggering tinnitus. However, vasodilation also leads to a rebound spike in blood pressure and reduced blood flow to the ears, which can also lead to tinnitus.

As we can see, there are several reasons why alcohol isn’t ear-friendly. If we know we’re prone to tinnitus or are already struggling with it, it’s yet another reason why it’s best to steer clear of overindulging.

How Long Does Alcohol-Induced Tinnitus Last?

When can we expect to feel better? It’s hard to tell since there are many individual factors at play.

If our tinnitus begins after a heavy bout of drinking, it should clear up in a few hours to a few days (provided we don’t make it a habit). Of course, the recovery time might be longer if we also smoke, take certain medications, or are under a lot of stress.

A good rule of thumb is this: if the tinnitus is bothersome, and it’s been more than 48 hours, check with your doctor for advice.

If I Stop Drinking Alcohol, Will My Tinnitus Go Away?

Once again, the answer is “definitely maybe.” Always check with your doctor if you’re concerned to make sure that the tinnitus isn’t a sign of something serious.

That said, quitting or cutting back on alcohol will improve our quality of life and reduce our chances of developing tinnitus in the future. For example, stress and poor sleep have been linked to tinnitus. Less alcohol means less stress and better sleep, reducing our chances of recurring tinnitus.

How To Treat and Prevent Tinnitus After Drinking

What can you do about the “post-booze” buzzing in your ears? Can you speed up the healing process at all? While there’s no clear-cut cure for tinnitus, there are some things you can do at home or with a practitioner to help treat and prevent it:

Home Remedies and Prevention

Before you rush to your doctor, try some at-home remedies and lifestyle changes. 
 

  1. Watch your intake. First and foremost, cut back on drinking (and loud bars if that’s a common activity) and see if the ringing improves. Ready to say goodbye to booze completely? Even better! Either way, Reframe is here to help you every step of the journey.
  2. Protect your hearing. While you’re out, protect your hearing. Don’t stand too close to the amps, keep earplugs in your wallet or purse when going to loud concerts (don’t worry, you’ll still hear everything), and use a device such as an Apple watch to gauge noise levels.
  3. Ease the stress. Stress and tinnitus are connected, so plan some mini-breaks into your day. Try meditation or deep breathing — both will help you stay mindful of your drinking habits, so it’s a win-win.
  4. Get some sleep. Poor sleep can make tinnitus worse, and alcohol won’t help either.  Despite making us doze off initially, it robs us of the most restorative stages of sleep.

  5. Mask the sound. Sometimes focusing on another sound can offer relief from the constant ringing. You can simply run the dishwasher or dryer or try a sound machine or wearable sound generator. You can also browse the American Tinnitus Association's sound library with anti-tinnitus tunes such as brown noise, purring cats, rivers, fountains, and more. 


If the sound persists (or you have other symptoms), please ask your doctor for advice!

Professional Treatment

When it comes to treating alcohol-related tinnitus, a lot depends on the particulars of our case. The doctor will first try to determine if it’s related to a medical issue, such as an injury to the ear or jaw. If symptoms persist, they might recommend several possible treatments:

  • Sound Therapy. An audiologist can conduct habituation sound therapy, which involves listening to sounds of a similar frequency as the auditory “intruder.” The idea is to get the brain so accustomed to the sound that it tunes it out as part of the normal background.
  • Behavioral therapy. A lot of the discomfort associated with tinnitus comes from our response to the sound, so sometimes we have to train our brain to respond differently. Behavioral therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), can help.
  • Medication. While there’s no anti-tinnitus medication per se, sometimes doctors can prescribe sleep aids or antidepressants to ease the psychological discomfort associated with tinnitus.
  • Bimodal stimulation. These devices provide relief by pairing sound tones with touch to reduce the impact of the tinnitus-associated noise. 
  • Deep brain stimulation. Deep brain stimulation uses high sound frequencies to trigger changes in the neuronal organization of the brain to provide relief.

Research is ongoing, and new treatment methods are being developed as we speak. Still, treatment is often a trial-and-error process.

Ringing in Change

Tinnitus can be frustrating, but there’s another way to look at it. If it’s triggered by our habits or lifestyle (whether that’s a bit too much alcohol, stress, or lack of sleep), we can see it as our body’s persistent (albeit annoying) plea to change our habits. Let’s respond to that plea by taking action. This can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort!

Alcohol and Tinnitus: The Reason for the Ringing

If you’ve had this experience firsthand, you know how unnerving it can be. You’re chilling on your couch, minding your own business as you scroll through your Facebook updates. Suddenly, you hear a ringing. What is this? A new app feature? A carbon monoxide alarm that’s low on batteries? You check every possible source to no avail. There’s no outside cause. The ringing is coming “from inside the house” — or, more precisely, from inside your ears. 

Yikes! What caused this unrelenting buzz, and, most importantly, how can you stop it? Known as tinnitus, the ringing is a common phenomenon (and a maddening one, at that). But did you know that alcohol and tinnitus share a link? If you’ve ever noticed your ears ringing after drinking, it’s time to take a closer look at the science behind it.

Let’s Talk Tinnitus

A man grimacing in pain while holding his head with both hands

Irish playwright Richard Steele writes, “I have often lamented that we cannot close our ears with as much ease as [with] which we close our eyes.” And boy, do those of us who have tinnitus agree.

Symptoms of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the medical term for hearing sounds (usually ringing) that are not actually there. Individual symptoms can vary — some hear sounds in one ear, while others hear them in both, and some hear them somewhere else in the head. For some people, moving their head or other parts of the body might trigger the sound — a phenomenon called “somatosensory tinnitus.”

According to NIH, most people describe tinnitus as a ringing sound. However, the full playlist of possible sounds includes many others: 

  • Roaring
  • Buzzing
  • Whistling
  • Humming
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Squealing
  • Whooshing
  • Shrieking

Thankfully, we typically experience only one of the sounds at a time. That said, having one of these phantom “ringtones” is fairly common. Nearly 15% of people experience tinnitus! And, as it turns out, children can have it, too. 

For both kids and adults, tinnitus might improve or disappear with time, but not always: occasionally, it gets worse with time. When the noise doesn’t stop for 3 months or longer, it’s considered chronic.

The pitch, volume, and complexity of the sounds can be as varied as the ears they haunt. Some people even hear full-on symphonies and other auditory hallucinations or “phantoms” along with tinnitus.

Types of Tinnitus

While most tinnitus cases are known for the persistent ringing, there are two different types:

  • Subjective. By far the most common type, subjective tinnitus involves noises only you can hear.
  • Objective. In this case, internal functions in the cardiovascular or musculoskeletal system create the sound, making it audible through a stethoscope.

Despite their differences, both are equally bothersome and leave us scrambling for answers.  

Tinnitus Causes

What causes tinnitus? That’s the million-dollar question. Frustrating as it is, it’s largely a medical mystery, but here are several suspects on the list of potential causes:

  • Noise exposure. Many of us might experience tinnitus after loud noise exposure at work or a loud event, such as a concert or sports game. It’s also common in war veterans who have been exposed to loud gunfire and bomb blasts. 
  • Stress or trauma. An injury to the head or neck can damage parts of the ear or the nerves involved in transmitting sound signals to the brain. This can “turn up the volume” on any incoming signals. According to the NIH, the effect is a bit like “phantom limb pain in an amputee,” with the brain compensating for missing signals.
  • Ear problems. Sometimes tinnitus is caused by something as simple as ear wax or fluid from an ear infection that blocks the ear canal. It can also be linked to Ménière’s disease — a disorder of the inner ear that leads to balance problems and hearing difficulties.
  • Other illnesses. Other illnesses can sometimes trigger tinnitus, even if they don’t originate in the ear. For example, jaw problems resulting from teeth grinding could be the culprit. Blood pressure fluctuations can also be a trigger.
  • Some medications. Occasionally, tinnitus can be caused by certain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin), antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, antimalarial drugs, and some antidepressant medications.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol is on the suspect list of many conditions, including tinnitus. Drinking can potentially cause tinnitus or make it worse.

This last one is why we’re here today. Are alcohol and tinnitus connected? And if so, how?

How Alcohol Impacts Tinnitus

The link between alcohol and tinnitus has puzzled scientists for quite a while. Can alcohol cause tinnitus? And does alcohol make tinnitus worse? Some studies came back inconclusive. For example, one recent study investigated the effects of smoking, alcohol, body mass index, and caffeine intake on tinnitus. While smoking was clearly linked, the same couldn’t be said for alcohol.

Still, there are several objective reasons why alcohol and tinnitus are, indeed, linked. Put simply: if you drank enough to have “the spins,” you may experience tinnitus. 

What if you already have tinnitus, will alcohol make it worse? The answer, once again, is yes. Here’s why:

  • Alcohol contains ototoxic compounds. Ototoxic compounds damage the ear and can degrade the stereocilia (tiny hairs that vibrate to transmit signals to the brain). 
  • Alcohol can impact the neurological processes involved in hearing. When booze is in our system, our neurological processes go haywire. In addition to making us call our exes to leave embarrassing messages or forgetting the names of people we met five minutes ago, it can also interfere with pathways involved in hearing, sometimes leading to tinnitus.
  • Alcohol disrupts our blood pressure. Remember how we said blood pressure fluctuations can trigger tinnitus in some people? Well, alcohol is notorious for causing vasodilation — the widening of blood vessels — which initially increases blood flow to different body parts, including the ears. This can temporarily increase inner ear fluid, triggering tinnitus. However, vasodilation also leads to a rebound spike in blood pressure and reduced blood flow to the ears, which can also lead to tinnitus.

As we can see, there are several reasons why alcohol isn’t ear-friendly. If we know we’re prone to tinnitus or are already struggling with it, it’s yet another reason why it’s best to steer clear of overindulging.

How Long Does Alcohol-Induced Tinnitus Last?

When can we expect to feel better? It’s hard to tell since there are many individual factors at play.

If our tinnitus begins after a heavy bout of drinking, it should clear up in a few hours to a few days (provided we don’t make it a habit). Of course, the recovery time might be longer if we also smoke, take certain medications, or are under a lot of stress.

A good rule of thumb is this: if the tinnitus is bothersome, and it’s been more than 48 hours, check with your doctor for advice.

If I Stop Drinking Alcohol, Will My Tinnitus Go Away?

Once again, the answer is “definitely maybe.” Always check with your doctor if you’re concerned to make sure that the tinnitus isn’t a sign of something serious.

That said, quitting or cutting back on alcohol will improve our quality of life and reduce our chances of developing tinnitus in the future. For example, stress and poor sleep have been linked to tinnitus. Less alcohol means less stress and better sleep, reducing our chances of recurring tinnitus.

How To Treat and Prevent Tinnitus After Drinking

What can you do about the “post-booze” buzzing in your ears? Can you speed up the healing process at all? While there’s no clear-cut cure for tinnitus, there are some things you can do at home or with a practitioner to help treat and prevent it:

Home Remedies and Prevention

Before you rush to your doctor, try some at-home remedies and lifestyle changes. 
 

  1. Watch your intake. First and foremost, cut back on drinking (and loud bars if that’s a common activity) and see if the ringing improves. Ready to say goodbye to booze completely? Even better! Either way, Reframe is here to help you every step of the journey.
  2. Protect your hearing. While you’re out, protect your hearing. Don’t stand too close to the amps, keep earplugs in your wallet or purse when going to loud concerts (don’t worry, you’ll still hear everything), and use a device such as an Apple watch to gauge noise levels.
  3. Ease the stress. Stress and tinnitus are connected, so plan some mini-breaks into your day. Try meditation or deep breathing — both will help you stay mindful of your drinking habits, so it’s a win-win.
  4. Get some sleep. Poor sleep can make tinnitus worse, and alcohol won’t help either.  Despite making us doze off initially, it robs us of the most restorative stages of sleep.

  5. Mask the sound. Sometimes focusing on another sound can offer relief from the constant ringing. You can simply run the dishwasher or dryer or try a sound machine or wearable sound generator. You can also browse the American Tinnitus Association's sound library with anti-tinnitus tunes such as brown noise, purring cats, rivers, fountains, and more. 


If the sound persists (or you have other symptoms), please ask your doctor for advice!

Professional Treatment

When it comes to treating alcohol-related tinnitus, a lot depends on the particulars of our case. The doctor will first try to determine if it’s related to a medical issue, such as an injury to the ear or jaw. If symptoms persist, they might recommend several possible treatments:

  • Sound Therapy. An audiologist can conduct habituation sound therapy, which involves listening to sounds of a similar frequency as the auditory “intruder.” The idea is to get the brain so accustomed to the sound that it tunes it out as part of the normal background.
  • Behavioral therapy. A lot of the discomfort associated with tinnitus comes from our response to the sound, so sometimes we have to train our brain to respond differently. Behavioral therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), can help.
  • Medication. While there’s no anti-tinnitus medication per se, sometimes doctors can prescribe sleep aids or antidepressants to ease the psychological discomfort associated with tinnitus.
  • Bimodal stimulation. These devices provide relief by pairing sound tones with touch to reduce the impact of the tinnitus-associated noise. 
  • Deep brain stimulation. Deep brain stimulation uses high sound frequencies to trigger changes in the neuronal organization of the brain to provide relief.

Research is ongoing, and new treatment methods are being developed as we speak. Still, treatment is often a trial-and-error process.

Ringing in Change

Tinnitus can be frustrating, but there’s another way to look at it. If it’s triggered by our habits or lifestyle (whether that’s a bit too much alcohol, stress, or lack of sleep), we can see it as our body’s persistent (albeit annoying) plea to change our habits. Let’s respond to that plea by taking action. This can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort!

Alcohol and Health
2024-07-11 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Swiss Researchers Develop Alcohol Neutralizing Gel for Hangovers
This is some text inside of a div block.

Wondering if there’s a way to neutralize alcohol when you know you had too much? Now there is! Swiss scientists have created a new gel that moves alcohol metabolism to the gut, skipping the step that creates toxic byproducts and causes hangovers.

19 min read

Avoid Hangovers Altogether With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

Read Full Article  →

Going to the beach? Slather on some sunscreen. Touch a doorknob at a gas station bathroom? Rub on some hand sanitizer. Drink too much? Sip some alcohol-neutralizing gel.

Say what? That’s right — Swiss scientists have come up with a new invention: a gel that works as an alcohol neutralizer. Let’s find out more!

Alcohol Metabolism and Hangovers

A man sitting on a couch, looking distressed, and holding a glass of water

We’ve all been there — the headache, shaky hands, and pit-of-the-stomach anxiety mixed with nausea. It’s all an unpleasant reminder of having too many margaritas (or beers — hangovers don’t discriminate) the night before.

Hangover cures are a dime a dozen, ranging from the plausible (but less-than-effective) to the downright bizarre. Ever heard of rubbing lemons under your armpits, drinking pickle juice, or (gulp!) eating a canary?

Out of all the hangover cure inventors out there, ancient Romans take the prize. According to Gizmodo, ancient wine enthusiasts would try to counteract the effects through “feather of the bird” instead of “hair of the dog” by (brace yourself!) “deep-frying a canary and scarfing it down.”

That said, the Namibians aren’t too far behind: after a night of partying, they would drink “Buffalo Milk.” And no, it’s not milk that comes from buffalos. Instead, the questionable concoction is “just clotted cream (from cows), dark rum, spiced rum, cream liqueur, and whole cream” — not that far off from whatever caused the hangover to begin with. Plus, “in addition to a belly full of booze and dairy, Buffalo Milk adds a sugar crash to the blend of bad feelings.” 

Hangover Science

Why are many hangover cures such flops? The answer boils down to a few key factors that stem from the way our body breaks down alcohol. For a deeper look, check out “What Exactly Happens During a Hangover?” but for now, here’s the gist:

  • Acetaldehyde buildup. This one is the main culprit. The liver uses two enzymes (proteins that get chemical reactions going) to break down booze. The first — alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) — converts ethanol into acetaldehyde, a compound more toxic than alcohol itself. The second — aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) — picks up the slack and turns acetaldehyde into harmless acetic acid, which gets excreted by the body through urine.

    However, since the liver can only do so much at a time, if we keep those drinks coming, acetaldehyde builds up, making itself known through all those pesky hangover symptoms.
  • Dehydration. Alcohol suppresses vasopressin — a hormone that tells the kidneys to hold on to water. The result? Incessant trips to the bathroom throughout the night and dehydration the morning after.
  • Inflammation. Drinking also triggers inflammation — our body’s response to invading pathogens that plays a key role in the immune response.

Some of the hangover “cures” do have a bit of science in them (the idea of pickle juice, for example, is to replenish lost electrolytes). However, most don’t actually prevent the morning-after woes or do much to mitigate the situation.

How the New Gel Interrupts the Process

With the new wonder gel, alcohol might have finally met its match! Instead of downing pickle juice or munching on canaries, we can now go straight to the root of the problem by taking acetaldehyde out of the picture. Meant to be consumed right after alcohol consumption, and designed to neutralize alcohol, it eliminates the need for the enzyme tag team altogether. Instead of relying on alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase, we now have their synthetic cousin that’s able to convert alcohol into acetic acid directly

A Powerful Trio: Iron, Glucose, and Gold

Led by scientist Jiaqi Su, the team took some plain old whey proteins and boiled them into long fibers. Next, they added salt and water to get the fibers to literally “gel together.” 

In theory, the fibers were up to the task of converting alcohol into acetic acid directly. However, the scientists needed to give them a bit of help to get the reaction going. Thinking creatively, they put the proteins in an iron bath and added a bit of glucose and a dash of gold to the mix. 

Before anyone gets confused, no, the gold wasn’t there for decoration. Instead, the reaction of glucose and gold nanoparticles produced hydrogen peroxide, which acted as a catalyst for the digestion process.

From Liver to Gut: Digestion Detour

The researchers added this “magic mix” of iron, glucose, and gold to their gel. The idea behind this process was to trigger alcohol metabolism early, rerouting it to the gut and saving the liver the trouble.

As team member Raffaele Mezzenga explains, “The gel shifts the breakdown of alcohol from the liver to the digestive tract. In contrast to when alcohol is metabolized in the liver, no harmful acetaldehyde is produced as an intermediate product.”

At least that’s the theory behind the invention. But did it actually work in practice?

Three (or More) Drunk Mice

To test the new gel, the scientists had to bring in some animal assistants. But don’t worry, nobody was eating them. Instead, the researchers threw an equivalent of a rager for a few lab mice by feeding them alcohol. Once nice and buzzed, the mice were given the alcohol neutralizer.

As it turned out, in this case (unlike in the case of the ancient Roman canaries), thinking outside the box paid off.

The new gel did the trick: a cascade of reactions turned alcohol into acetic acid. Within half an hour, the alcohol levels of the mice dropped by 40%, and after five hours by more than 55%. And there were some extra perks: the mice had less acetaldehyde buildup, less liver damage, and a healthier blood composition overall.

Surprisingly, the benefits continued! Mice that were sent on a 10-day alcohol binge ended up faring much better if their drinks came with a side of the neutralizing gel. Their livers were spared much of the toxic effects and were able to metabolize fats better than their less lucky counterparts.

Alcohol Neutralizer vs. Other “Hangover Cures”

How does the new gel compare to other hangover cures? Unlike most other morning-after remedies (and prevention techniques), it goes straight for the source of the unpleasant symptoms — acetaldehyde buildup. In this way, it’s ahead of the rest.

A Note of Caution

However, the gel is by no means a “magic bullet” and comes with some serious limitations.

  • It only works if alcohol is still in the GI tract. The gel is meant to be consumed at the same time or shortly after alcohol consumption. Once alcohol is in our bloodstream, the damage is done — the liver is already involved, and it’s too late for the shortcut to take effect.
  • It’s not a green flag to keep the drinks flowing. Drinking too much is still dangerous. For one thing, we still get the cognitive impairment that comes from alcohol’s effect on the brain. We also still experience other harmful effects such as the damage it does to our GI tract, for example. Plus, we still get the dopamine hit, which means there’s potential for dependence.

As Mezzenga sums up, “It’s healthier not to drink alcohol at all … However, the gel could be of particular interest to people who don’t want to give up alcohol completely, but don’t want to put a strain on their bodies and aren’t actively seeking the effects of alcohol.”

Tips To Stay Safe

Tips To Stay Safe

Gel or no gel, it’s important to stay safe when alcohol is in the picture. Here are a few tips for the journey:

  • Track your intake. It’s important to have a clear picture of the situation. If hangovers have become a regular thing, it may be time to get tracking and see how much you’re actually consuming. It might be more than you think! (Those bottomless mimosas add up, and a “wine glass” at a restaurant can be close to half a bottle.)
  • Plan ahead. Instead of planning on how to avoid a hangover, it’s always better to plan on a drink limit when you set out. Try to stick to it, and use an accountability buddy if that helps. Either way, you want to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to making decisions about booze.
  • Consider cutting back or taking a break. If you’re finding yourself breaking the limit you set over and over again (or reaching for that gel a bit too often), consider cutting back. Don’t look at reducing alcohol or taking a break from it altogether as a limitation — instead, think of it as an experiment or an exploration of the fun that’s out there beyond booze.
  • Nourish your body. Alcohol depletes our body of electrolytes, fluids, and vital nutrients (which don’t get absorbed as efficiently when booze is in the picture). Make sure to eat well every day, and be especially careful about eating before you drink. (And we’re not talking chips and pretzels here — your body needs high-quality fuel provided by whole grains, healthy fats, lean meats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.)
  • Get moving. Exercise works wonders for keeping cravings at bay and giving you a natural mood boost by releasing endorphins and dopamine. No alcohol (and no gel) required! And even if you do end up overdoing it and wake up to a hangover the next day, try to incorporate some movement. Trekking to the gym might be asking too much, but any movement counts — and if you break a sweat, that’s even better!
  • Get rest. Alcohol is notorious for messing with sleep. While you might doze off initially, chances are you’ll wake up feeling groggy, even if you stayed in bed until noon. Why? Booze disrupts our natural sleep cycle, sending us straight into deep sleep and skimping on the most restorative REM stages.
  • Explore life beyond booze. Most importantly, remember that there’s so much more to life than booze, hangovers, and neutralizing gels. Explore alcohol-free activities (such as hiking, meditation, continuing education classes, audio books, escape rooms, trivia nights, and anything else your mind fancies). Who knows, you might end up finding some new favorites and wish you’d done so sooner! Stay in the mindset of curiosity and exploration throughout the process. It’s all about adding fun to your life — not deprivation.

And remember, Reframe is here for you! Our thriving community of global users is here to support you every step of the way.

Feeling Better

Having tools — such as the alcohol neutralizer gel — to use when the situation calls for it is helpful. But it’s not the end of the story. In We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life, Laura McKowen writes: “My drinking — and whatever it is you do to feel better — was born of a natural impulse to soothe, to connect, to feel love. And although alcohol hadn’t actually delivered those things, it was absolutely yoked to them in my mind. In my heart and body too. It was just what I knew.”

Let’s continue exploring what makes us feel better — truly better, long after the drinks have been served, consumed, and (maybe) neutralized with gel. There’s so much to discover!

Going to the beach? Slather on some sunscreen. Touch a doorknob at a gas station bathroom? Rub on some hand sanitizer. Drink too much? Sip some alcohol-neutralizing gel.

Say what? That’s right — Swiss scientists have come up with a new invention: a gel that works as an alcohol neutralizer. Let’s find out more!

Alcohol Metabolism and Hangovers

A man sitting on a couch, looking distressed, and holding a glass of water

We’ve all been there — the headache, shaky hands, and pit-of-the-stomach anxiety mixed with nausea. It’s all an unpleasant reminder of having too many margaritas (or beers — hangovers don’t discriminate) the night before.

Hangover cures are a dime a dozen, ranging from the plausible (but less-than-effective) to the downright bizarre. Ever heard of rubbing lemons under your armpits, drinking pickle juice, or (gulp!) eating a canary?

Out of all the hangover cure inventors out there, ancient Romans take the prize. According to Gizmodo, ancient wine enthusiasts would try to counteract the effects through “feather of the bird” instead of “hair of the dog” by (brace yourself!) “deep-frying a canary and scarfing it down.”

That said, the Namibians aren’t too far behind: after a night of partying, they would drink “Buffalo Milk.” And no, it’s not milk that comes from buffalos. Instead, the questionable concoction is “just clotted cream (from cows), dark rum, spiced rum, cream liqueur, and whole cream” — not that far off from whatever caused the hangover to begin with. Plus, “in addition to a belly full of booze and dairy, Buffalo Milk adds a sugar crash to the blend of bad feelings.” 

Hangover Science

Why are many hangover cures such flops? The answer boils down to a few key factors that stem from the way our body breaks down alcohol. For a deeper look, check out “What Exactly Happens During a Hangover?” but for now, here’s the gist:

  • Acetaldehyde buildup. This one is the main culprit. The liver uses two enzymes (proteins that get chemical reactions going) to break down booze. The first — alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) — converts ethanol into acetaldehyde, a compound more toxic than alcohol itself. The second — aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) — picks up the slack and turns acetaldehyde into harmless acetic acid, which gets excreted by the body through urine.

    However, since the liver can only do so much at a time, if we keep those drinks coming, acetaldehyde builds up, making itself known through all those pesky hangover symptoms.
  • Dehydration. Alcohol suppresses vasopressin — a hormone that tells the kidneys to hold on to water. The result? Incessant trips to the bathroom throughout the night and dehydration the morning after.
  • Inflammation. Drinking also triggers inflammation — our body’s response to invading pathogens that plays a key role in the immune response.

Some of the hangover “cures” do have a bit of science in them (the idea of pickle juice, for example, is to replenish lost electrolytes). However, most don’t actually prevent the morning-after woes or do much to mitigate the situation.

How the New Gel Interrupts the Process

With the new wonder gel, alcohol might have finally met its match! Instead of downing pickle juice or munching on canaries, we can now go straight to the root of the problem by taking acetaldehyde out of the picture. Meant to be consumed right after alcohol consumption, and designed to neutralize alcohol, it eliminates the need for the enzyme tag team altogether. Instead of relying on alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase, we now have their synthetic cousin that’s able to convert alcohol into acetic acid directly

A Powerful Trio: Iron, Glucose, and Gold

Led by scientist Jiaqi Su, the team took some plain old whey proteins and boiled them into long fibers. Next, they added salt and water to get the fibers to literally “gel together.” 

In theory, the fibers were up to the task of converting alcohol into acetic acid directly. However, the scientists needed to give them a bit of help to get the reaction going. Thinking creatively, they put the proteins in an iron bath and added a bit of glucose and a dash of gold to the mix. 

Before anyone gets confused, no, the gold wasn’t there for decoration. Instead, the reaction of glucose and gold nanoparticles produced hydrogen peroxide, which acted as a catalyst for the digestion process.

From Liver to Gut: Digestion Detour

The researchers added this “magic mix” of iron, glucose, and gold to their gel. The idea behind this process was to trigger alcohol metabolism early, rerouting it to the gut and saving the liver the trouble.

As team member Raffaele Mezzenga explains, “The gel shifts the breakdown of alcohol from the liver to the digestive tract. In contrast to when alcohol is metabolized in the liver, no harmful acetaldehyde is produced as an intermediate product.”

At least that’s the theory behind the invention. But did it actually work in practice?

Three (or More) Drunk Mice

To test the new gel, the scientists had to bring in some animal assistants. But don’t worry, nobody was eating them. Instead, the researchers threw an equivalent of a rager for a few lab mice by feeding them alcohol. Once nice and buzzed, the mice were given the alcohol neutralizer.

As it turned out, in this case (unlike in the case of the ancient Roman canaries), thinking outside the box paid off.

The new gel did the trick: a cascade of reactions turned alcohol into acetic acid. Within half an hour, the alcohol levels of the mice dropped by 40%, and after five hours by more than 55%. And there were some extra perks: the mice had less acetaldehyde buildup, less liver damage, and a healthier blood composition overall.

Surprisingly, the benefits continued! Mice that were sent on a 10-day alcohol binge ended up faring much better if their drinks came with a side of the neutralizing gel. Their livers were spared much of the toxic effects and were able to metabolize fats better than their less lucky counterparts.

Alcohol Neutralizer vs. Other “Hangover Cures”

How does the new gel compare to other hangover cures? Unlike most other morning-after remedies (and prevention techniques), it goes straight for the source of the unpleasant symptoms — acetaldehyde buildup. In this way, it’s ahead of the rest.

A Note of Caution

However, the gel is by no means a “magic bullet” and comes with some serious limitations.

  • It only works if alcohol is still in the GI tract. The gel is meant to be consumed at the same time or shortly after alcohol consumption. Once alcohol is in our bloodstream, the damage is done — the liver is already involved, and it’s too late for the shortcut to take effect.
  • It’s not a green flag to keep the drinks flowing. Drinking too much is still dangerous. For one thing, we still get the cognitive impairment that comes from alcohol’s effect on the brain. We also still experience other harmful effects such as the damage it does to our GI tract, for example. Plus, we still get the dopamine hit, which means there’s potential for dependence.

As Mezzenga sums up, “It’s healthier not to drink alcohol at all … However, the gel could be of particular interest to people who don’t want to give up alcohol completely, but don’t want to put a strain on their bodies and aren’t actively seeking the effects of alcohol.”

Tips To Stay Safe

Tips To Stay Safe

Gel or no gel, it’s important to stay safe when alcohol is in the picture. Here are a few tips for the journey:

  • Track your intake. It’s important to have a clear picture of the situation. If hangovers have become a regular thing, it may be time to get tracking and see how much you’re actually consuming. It might be more than you think! (Those bottomless mimosas add up, and a “wine glass” at a restaurant can be close to half a bottle.)
  • Plan ahead. Instead of planning on how to avoid a hangover, it’s always better to plan on a drink limit when you set out. Try to stick to it, and use an accountability buddy if that helps. Either way, you want to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to making decisions about booze.
  • Consider cutting back or taking a break. If you’re finding yourself breaking the limit you set over and over again (or reaching for that gel a bit too often), consider cutting back. Don’t look at reducing alcohol or taking a break from it altogether as a limitation — instead, think of it as an experiment or an exploration of the fun that’s out there beyond booze.
  • Nourish your body. Alcohol depletes our body of electrolytes, fluids, and vital nutrients (which don’t get absorbed as efficiently when booze is in the picture). Make sure to eat well every day, and be especially careful about eating before you drink. (And we’re not talking chips and pretzels here — your body needs high-quality fuel provided by whole grains, healthy fats, lean meats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.)
  • Get moving. Exercise works wonders for keeping cravings at bay and giving you a natural mood boost by releasing endorphins and dopamine. No alcohol (and no gel) required! And even if you do end up overdoing it and wake up to a hangover the next day, try to incorporate some movement. Trekking to the gym might be asking too much, but any movement counts — and if you break a sweat, that’s even better!
  • Get rest. Alcohol is notorious for messing with sleep. While you might doze off initially, chances are you’ll wake up feeling groggy, even if you stayed in bed until noon. Why? Booze disrupts our natural sleep cycle, sending us straight into deep sleep and skimping on the most restorative REM stages.
  • Explore life beyond booze. Most importantly, remember that there’s so much more to life than booze, hangovers, and neutralizing gels. Explore alcohol-free activities (such as hiking, meditation, continuing education classes, audio books, escape rooms, trivia nights, and anything else your mind fancies). Who knows, you might end up finding some new favorites and wish you’d done so sooner! Stay in the mindset of curiosity and exploration throughout the process. It’s all about adding fun to your life — not deprivation.

And remember, Reframe is here for you! Our thriving community of global users is here to support you every step of the way.

Feeling Better

Having tools — such as the alcohol neutralizer gel — to use when the situation calls for it is helpful. But it’s not the end of the story. In We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life, Laura McKowen writes: “My drinking — and whatever it is you do to feel better — was born of a natural impulse to soothe, to connect, to feel love. And although alcohol hadn’t actually delivered those things, it was absolutely yoked to them in my mind. In my heart and body too. It was just what I knew.”

Let’s continue exploring what makes us feel better — truly better, long after the drinks have been served, consumed, and (maybe) neutralized with gel. There’s so much to discover!

Alcohol and Health
2024-07-10 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Understanding How Alcohol Affects REM Sleep and Overall Sleep Quality
This is some text inside of a div block.

Explore the complex effects of alcohol on REM sleep and overall sleep quality, including how it disrupts sleep cycles and strategies to mitigate these impacts for better health and well-being.

7 min read

Master Your Triggers

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Sleep is as critical to our health as a balanced diet and regular exercise, yet it is often compromised by lifestyle choices, including the consumption of alcohol. While a nightcap might seem like a shortcut to dreamland, the truth is that alcohol has profound effects on the sleep cycle, particularly on REM sleep, which is essential for cognitive functions and emotional regulation. This article explores the intricate relationship between alcohol and sleep, emphasizing the impact on REM sleep and overall sleep quality.

The Basics of Sleep Architecture

Understanding How Alcohol Affects REM Sleep and Overall Sleep Quality

To understand how alcohol influences sleep, it's essential to grasp the basics of sleep architecture. Sleep is composed of several cycles, each consisting of different stages: Stage 1 (light sleep), Stage 2 (the onset of true sleep), and Stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep), followed by REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM sleep is the phase associated with dreaming, memory consolidation, and emotional processing.

Alcohol's Impact on Sleep Cycles

Alcohol is a sedative, and initially, it may seem to help with falling asleep. However, its sedative effects quickly wear off, and its disruptive impact begins to unfold throughout the night. Here are the key ways in which alcohol affects sleep:

1. Reduction in Sleep Latency

Initially, alcohol consumption can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, which might seem beneficial. However, this is often misleading as the overall quality of sleep is compromised.

2. Alteration of Sleep Phases

Alcohol has been shown to alter the normal progression through the sleep stages. It can increase the duration of deep sleep (slow-wave sleep) during the first half of the night, which might sound positive but comes at a cost to REM sleep.

3. Disruption of REM Sleep

The most significant impact of alcohol is on REM sleep. Drinking heavily reduces the duration and intensity of REM phases, especially during the first two cycles of the night. This reduction in REM sleep can impair cognitive functions and emotional health, leading to poor concentration, mood disturbances, and memory issues.

4. Increased Sleep Fragmentation

As the body metabolizes alcohol, its sedative effects wear off, leading to increased awakenings and a more fragmented second half of the night. This results in less restorative sleep and can cause grogginess and irritability the following day.

The Consequences of Reduced REM Sleep

The reduction in REM sleep due to alcohol consumption has several short-term and long-term effects. In the short term, it can impair learning and memory consolidation. In the long term, chronic disruption of REM sleep can contribute to the development of mood disorders, decreased cognitive function, and poor emotional regulation.

Strategies to Mitigate Alcohol's Impact on Sleep

For those looking to improve their sleep quality while managing alcohol consumption, here are some strategies:

1. Moderation and Timing

Limit alcohol intake and avoid drinking close to bedtime. Allowing several hours between the last drink and bedtime can help mitigate some of the disruptive effects on sleep.

2. Hydration

Alcohol dehydrates the body, so drinking plenty of water can help counteract some of the negative effects of alcohol on the sleep cycle.

3. Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and engaging in relaxing activities before bed can help promote better sleep quality.

4. Seeking Professional Guidance

If alcohol consumption and sleep disturbances are a concern, it may be beneficial to seek advice from a healthcare provider or a specialist in sleep medicine.

Conclusion

While it may be tempting to use alcohol as a sleep aid, the evidence clearly suggests that it disrupts sleep, particularly REM sleep, which is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being. By understanding the effects of alcohol on sleep and taking steps to minimize these impacts, individuals can enjoy better health and improved quality of life.

For those interested in further exploring the impact of lifestyle choices on sleep, our article "Exploring the Link Between Diet, Exercise, and Sleep Quality" offers additional insights into how diet and physical activity influence sleep.

By fostering a better understanding of how alcohol affects sleep and taking proactive steps to manage consumption, individuals can enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and improved sleep quality.

Sleep is as critical to our health as a balanced diet and regular exercise, yet it is often compromised by lifestyle choices, including the consumption of alcohol. While a nightcap might seem like a shortcut to dreamland, the truth is that alcohol has profound effects on the sleep cycle, particularly on REM sleep, which is essential for cognitive functions and emotional regulation. This article explores the intricate relationship between alcohol and sleep, emphasizing the impact on REM sleep and overall sleep quality.

The Basics of Sleep Architecture

Understanding How Alcohol Affects REM Sleep and Overall Sleep Quality

To understand how alcohol influences sleep, it's essential to grasp the basics of sleep architecture. Sleep is composed of several cycles, each consisting of different stages: Stage 1 (light sleep), Stage 2 (the onset of true sleep), and Stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep), followed by REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM sleep is the phase associated with dreaming, memory consolidation, and emotional processing.

Alcohol's Impact on Sleep Cycles

Alcohol is a sedative, and initially, it may seem to help with falling asleep. However, its sedative effects quickly wear off, and its disruptive impact begins to unfold throughout the night. Here are the key ways in which alcohol affects sleep:

1. Reduction in Sleep Latency

Initially, alcohol consumption can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, which might seem beneficial. However, this is often misleading as the overall quality of sleep is compromised.

2. Alteration of Sleep Phases

Alcohol has been shown to alter the normal progression through the sleep stages. It can increase the duration of deep sleep (slow-wave sleep) during the first half of the night, which might sound positive but comes at a cost to REM sleep.

3. Disruption of REM Sleep

The most significant impact of alcohol is on REM sleep. Drinking heavily reduces the duration and intensity of REM phases, especially during the first two cycles of the night. This reduction in REM sleep can impair cognitive functions and emotional health, leading to poor concentration, mood disturbances, and memory issues.

4. Increased Sleep Fragmentation

As the body metabolizes alcohol, its sedative effects wear off, leading to increased awakenings and a more fragmented second half of the night. This results in less restorative sleep and can cause grogginess and irritability the following day.

The Consequences of Reduced REM Sleep

The reduction in REM sleep due to alcohol consumption has several short-term and long-term effects. In the short term, it can impair learning and memory consolidation. In the long term, chronic disruption of REM sleep can contribute to the development of mood disorders, decreased cognitive function, and poor emotional regulation.

Strategies to Mitigate Alcohol's Impact on Sleep

For those looking to improve their sleep quality while managing alcohol consumption, here are some strategies:

1. Moderation and Timing

Limit alcohol intake and avoid drinking close to bedtime. Allowing several hours between the last drink and bedtime can help mitigate some of the disruptive effects on sleep.

2. Hydration

Alcohol dehydrates the body, so drinking plenty of water can help counteract some of the negative effects of alcohol on the sleep cycle.

3. Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and engaging in relaxing activities before bed can help promote better sleep quality.

4. Seeking Professional Guidance

If alcohol consumption and sleep disturbances are a concern, it may be beneficial to seek advice from a healthcare provider or a specialist in sleep medicine.

Conclusion

While it may be tempting to use alcohol as a sleep aid, the evidence clearly suggests that it disrupts sleep, particularly REM sleep, which is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being. By understanding the effects of alcohol on sleep and taking steps to minimize these impacts, individuals can enjoy better health and improved quality of life.

For those interested in further exploring the impact of lifestyle choices on sleep, our article "Exploring the Link Between Diet, Exercise, and Sleep Quality" offers additional insights into how diet and physical activity influence sleep.

By fostering a better understanding of how alcohol affects sleep and taking proactive steps to manage consumption, individuals can enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and improved sleep quality.

Alcohol and Health
2024-07-08 9:00
Alcohol and Health
How an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Can Help Reduce the Negative Effects of Alcohol on the Body: The Role of Nutrition in Supporting Healthier Drinking Habits
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Discover how an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce the harmful effects of alcohol on your body, improve overall health, and support healthier drinking habits through balanced nutrition.

11 min read

Take Control of Your Drinking with Reframe

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

Read Full Article  →

Alcohol consumption is a common part of social and cultural practices across the globe. However, frequent or excessive drinking can take a toll on the body, leading to a range of health issues, from liver damage to increased inflammation. While the best approach to mitigating the negative effects of alcohol is moderation, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can also play a significant role in supporting healthier drinking habits. This article explores how an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce the negative effects of alcohol and the broader role of nutrition in fostering healthier relationships with alcohol.

Understanding Inflammation and Alcohol

Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Alcohol Negativity

Inflammation is a natural response by the body's immune system to injury or infection. While acute inflammation is essential for healing, chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, has been shown to contribute to chronic inflammation. This inflammation can result from alcohol's impact on gut health, liver function, and the body's ability to process and eliminate toxins.

Alcohol and Gut Health

The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that play a crucial role in maintaining overall health. Alcohol can disrupt the balance of this gut microbiota, leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a reduction in beneficial bacteria. This imbalance, known as dysbiosis, can trigger inflammation and compromise the integrity of the gut lining, allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream and cause further inflammation.

Alcohol and Liver Function

The liver is responsible for metabolizing alcohol, but excessive consumption can overwhelm this organ, leading to liver inflammation and damage. Over time, this can result in conditions such as fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Inflammation in the liver can also cause systemic inflammation, affecting the entire body.

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: A Nutritional Approach

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on consuming foods that reduce inflammation and avoiding those that promote it. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Here's how incorporating an anti-inflammatory diet can help mitigate the negative effects of alcohol on the body:

1. Rich in Antioxidants

Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals produced by alcohol metabolism. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress, leading to inflammation and cellular damage. Berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables are particularly potent sources of antioxidants.

2. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They can help counteract the pro-inflammatory effects of alcohol and support heart and brain health.

3. Fiber for Gut Health

A diet high in fiber from whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables supports a healthy gut microbiota. Fiber serves as a prebiotic, feeding beneficial bacteria and promoting a balanced gut environment. A healthy gut can better withstand the disruptive effects of alcohol, reducing its contribution to systemic inflammation.

4. Lean Proteins

Lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey, beans, and tofu, provide essential nutrients without the saturated fats found in red and processed meats, which can promote inflammation. Including lean proteins in your diet can help repair and maintain body tissues, including those damaged by alcohol consumption.

5. Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts, have anti-inflammatory properties. These fats can help reduce the inflammation that alcohol may cause and support overall cardiovascular health.

6. Hydration

Staying hydrated is crucial for reducing the negative effects of alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, leading to dehydration, which can exacerbate inflammation and other health issues. Drinking plenty of water and including hydrating foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and oranges in your diet can help maintain hydration levels.

Practical Tips for Implementing an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Transitioning to an anti-inflammatory diet doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here are some practical tips to help you get started:

1. Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits and Vegetables

Aim to include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your meals. This ensures a wide range of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients.

2. Choose Whole Grains

Replace refined grains with whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread. Whole grains provide more fiber and nutrients, supporting gut health and reducing inflammation.

3. Incorporate Fatty Fish

Aim to eat fatty fish at least twice a week to benefit from their omega-3 fatty acids. If you're not a fan of fish, consider taking an omega-3 supplement.

4. Snack on Nuts and Seeds

Keep a variety of nuts and seeds on hand for snacks. They are rich in healthy fats and fiber, making them a great anti-inflammatory option.

5. Cook with Olive Oil

Use olive oil as your primary cooking fat. It's rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, making it an excellent choice for reducing inflammation.

6. Stay Hydrated

Drink water throughout the day, and consider herbal teas like green tea, which has additional antioxidant properties.

7. Limit Processed Foods

Processed foods often contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, and other ingredients that can promote inflammation. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.

The Broader Role of Nutrition in Healthier Drinking Habits

Beyond the specific focus on reducing inflammation, nutrition plays a broader role in supporting healthier drinking habits. A balanced diet can help maintain overall health, improve liver function, and reduce cravings for alcohol.

1. Blood Sugar Regulation

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels through a balanced diet can help reduce cravings for alcohol. Consuming regular meals with balanced macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) can prevent the blood sugar spikes and crashes that often lead to cravings.

2. Liver Support

Certain foods can support liver health and improve its ability to detoxify the body. Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts), garlic, and green tea have been shown to support liver function.

3. Promoting Mental Health

Nutrition also impacts mental health, which is closely linked to drinking habits. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and magnesium can support brain health and help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are often associated with alcohol consumption.

4. Building Healthy Habits

Adopting healthy eating habits can contribute to a lifestyle that naturally includes moderate alcohol consumption. When you prioritize nutritious foods and a balanced diet, you are more likely to make mindful choices about alcohol.

Final Thoughts

Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is a powerful strategy for mitigating the negative effects of alcohol on the body. By incorporating antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet, you can reduce inflammation and support overall health. Moreover, a balanced diet plays a crucial role in fostering healthier drinking habits, ultimately leading to a more holistic approach to health and well-being.

While modifying your diet is a significant step, it is also essential to combine these changes with mindful drinking practices. Moderation, self-awareness, and a holistic approach to health can help you enjoy alcohol responsibly while minimizing its impact on your body.

Alcohol consumption is a common part of social and cultural practices across the globe. However, frequent or excessive drinking can take a toll on the body, leading to a range of health issues, from liver damage to increased inflammation. While the best approach to mitigating the negative effects of alcohol is moderation, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can also play a significant role in supporting healthier drinking habits. This article explores how an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce the negative effects of alcohol and the broader role of nutrition in fostering healthier relationships with alcohol.

Understanding Inflammation and Alcohol

Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Alcohol Negativity

Inflammation is a natural response by the body's immune system to injury or infection. While acute inflammation is essential for healing, chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, has been shown to contribute to chronic inflammation. This inflammation can result from alcohol's impact on gut health, liver function, and the body's ability to process and eliminate toxins.

Alcohol and Gut Health

The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that play a crucial role in maintaining overall health. Alcohol can disrupt the balance of this gut microbiota, leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a reduction in beneficial bacteria. This imbalance, known as dysbiosis, can trigger inflammation and compromise the integrity of the gut lining, allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream and cause further inflammation.

Alcohol and Liver Function

The liver is responsible for metabolizing alcohol, but excessive consumption can overwhelm this organ, leading to liver inflammation and damage. Over time, this can result in conditions such as fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Inflammation in the liver can also cause systemic inflammation, affecting the entire body.

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: A Nutritional Approach

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on consuming foods that reduce inflammation and avoiding those that promote it. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Here's how incorporating an anti-inflammatory diet can help mitigate the negative effects of alcohol on the body:

1. Rich in Antioxidants

Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals produced by alcohol metabolism. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress, leading to inflammation and cellular damage. Berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables are particularly potent sources of antioxidants.

2. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They can help counteract the pro-inflammatory effects of alcohol and support heart and brain health.

3. Fiber for Gut Health

A diet high in fiber from whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables supports a healthy gut microbiota. Fiber serves as a prebiotic, feeding beneficial bacteria and promoting a balanced gut environment. A healthy gut can better withstand the disruptive effects of alcohol, reducing its contribution to systemic inflammation.

4. Lean Proteins

Lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey, beans, and tofu, provide essential nutrients without the saturated fats found in red and processed meats, which can promote inflammation. Including lean proteins in your diet can help repair and maintain body tissues, including those damaged by alcohol consumption.

5. Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts, have anti-inflammatory properties. These fats can help reduce the inflammation that alcohol may cause and support overall cardiovascular health.

6. Hydration

Staying hydrated is crucial for reducing the negative effects of alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, leading to dehydration, which can exacerbate inflammation and other health issues. Drinking plenty of water and including hydrating foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and oranges in your diet can help maintain hydration levels.

Practical Tips for Implementing an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Transitioning to an anti-inflammatory diet doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here are some practical tips to help you get started:

1. Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits and Vegetables

Aim to include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your meals. This ensures a wide range of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients.

2. Choose Whole Grains

Replace refined grains with whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread. Whole grains provide more fiber and nutrients, supporting gut health and reducing inflammation.

3. Incorporate Fatty Fish

Aim to eat fatty fish at least twice a week to benefit from their omega-3 fatty acids. If you're not a fan of fish, consider taking an omega-3 supplement.

4. Snack on Nuts and Seeds

Keep a variety of nuts and seeds on hand for snacks. They are rich in healthy fats and fiber, making them a great anti-inflammatory option.

5. Cook with Olive Oil

Use olive oil as your primary cooking fat. It's rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, making it an excellent choice for reducing inflammation.

6. Stay Hydrated

Drink water throughout the day, and consider herbal teas like green tea, which has additional antioxidant properties.

7. Limit Processed Foods

Processed foods often contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, and other ingredients that can promote inflammation. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.

The Broader Role of Nutrition in Healthier Drinking Habits

Beyond the specific focus on reducing inflammation, nutrition plays a broader role in supporting healthier drinking habits. A balanced diet can help maintain overall health, improve liver function, and reduce cravings for alcohol.

1. Blood Sugar Regulation

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels through a balanced diet can help reduce cravings for alcohol. Consuming regular meals with balanced macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) can prevent the blood sugar spikes and crashes that often lead to cravings.

2. Liver Support

Certain foods can support liver health and improve its ability to detoxify the body. Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts), garlic, and green tea have been shown to support liver function.

3. Promoting Mental Health

Nutrition also impacts mental health, which is closely linked to drinking habits. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and magnesium can support brain health and help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are often associated with alcohol consumption.

4. Building Healthy Habits

Adopting healthy eating habits can contribute to a lifestyle that naturally includes moderate alcohol consumption. When you prioritize nutritious foods and a balanced diet, you are more likely to make mindful choices about alcohol.

Final Thoughts

Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is a powerful strategy for mitigating the negative effects of alcohol on the body. By incorporating antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet, you can reduce inflammation and support overall health. Moreover, a balanced diet plays a crucial role in fostering healthier drinking habits, ultimately leading to a more holistic approach to health and well-being.

While modifying your diet is a significant step, it is also essential to combine these changes with mindful drinking practices. Moderation, self-awareness, and a holistic approach to health can help you enjoy alcohol responsibly while minimizing its impact on your body.

Alcohol and Health
2024-07-08 9:00
Alcohol and Health
Understanding How Alcohol Affects Melatonin Production and Sleep Cycles
This is some text inside of a div block.

Explore the complex effects of alcohol on melatonin production and sleep cycles, including how it disrupts sleep quality and the body's natural rhythms, and learn strategies to manage its impact for better sleep health.

7 min read

Moderate Your Drinking Effectively

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

Read Full Article  →

Alcohol is often considered a sedative that can help induce sleep, but the impact it has on sleep quality and the body's natural sleep-wake cycles is far more complex. Many individuals might not be aware of the nuanced ways in which alcohol disrupts melatonin production and alters sleep patterns. In this article, we'll delve into the scientific mechanisms at play, explore how alcohol interferes with our natural rhythms, and offer insights into managing alcohol consumption for better sleep health.

The Basics of Melatonin and Sleep

Melatonin Production and Sleep Cycles

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, primarily responsible for regulating the body's circadian rhythms. These rhythms dictate our natural sleep and wake cycles, influenced by light exposure and genetic factors. Melatonin production typically increases in the evening as it gets darker, peaking during the night, and decreases with the morning light. This cycle helps prepare our bodies for sleep and wakefulness, playing a crucial role in our overall health.

How Alcohol Disrupts Melatonin and Sleep

1. Suppression of Melatonin Production

Alcohol can significantly affect the secretion of melatonin. Studies have shown that consuming alcohol before bedtime can reduce the natural nighttime elevations in melatonin, leading to disturbances in the circadian rhythm. This suppression of melatonin not only makes it harder to fall asleep but also impacts the quality of sleep.

2. Alteration of Sleep Architecture

When alcohol is consumed, it can induce feelings of sleepiness, but the sleep one gets is not of good quality. Alcohol alters the structure of sleep cycles, particularly by reducing the proportion of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is crucial for cognitive functions like memory, learning, and emotional health. A reduction in REM sleep can lead to a non-restorative sleep experience, impacting overall health and well-being.

3. Increased Sleep Disruptions

As the body metabolizes alcohol, it experiences a rebound effect, which often leads to increased wakefulness during the second half of the night. This phenomenon can cause frequent awakenings and a fragmented sleep pattern, which diminishes sleep quality and can exacerbate feelings of tiredness the next day.

4. Impact on Sleep-Related Hormones and Neurotransmitters

Alcohol also affects other neurotransmitters and hormones involved in sleep regulation, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and adenosine. While alcohol initially increases the activity of GABA, which has a calming effect, this is short-lived and often leads to disturbances later in the sleep cycle. Similarly, alcohol's impact on adenosine can lead to immediate sleepiness followed by a sudden wakefulness as the effects wear off.

Strategies for Managing Alcohol Consumption for Better Sleep

Understanding the impact of alcohol on sleep is the first step toward improving sleep quality. Here are some strategies to help mitigate the negative effects of alcohol on sleep:

1. Moderation and Timing

Limit alcohol consumption to moderate levels and avoid drinking close to bedtime. Allowing several hours between drinking and sleeping can help minimize its impact on melatonin and sleep quality.

2. Hydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urine production and can lead to dehydration. Drinking plenty of water alongside alcoholic beverages and before bed can help reduce some negative effects, such as disturbed sleep and hangovers.

3. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Developing a bedtime routine that encourages relaxation can help counteract some of the sleep disturbances caused by alcohol. This might include reading, meditating, or listening to soothing music before bed.

4. Consider Alternatives

On nights when good sleep is particularly crucial, consider opting for non-alcoholic beverages. There are many non-alcoholic alternatives that can provide a similar taste and social experience without the disruptive effects on sleep.

Conclusion

While it's commonly thought that a nightcap might help one sleep better, the truth is that alcohol has a profound impact on sleep quality and the body's natural rhythms. By understanding these effects and implementing strategies to mitigate them, individuals can enjoy social occasions with alcohol while also maintaining good sleep health.

By navigating these nuances, one can enjoy a healthier relationship with alcohol while also prioritizing rest and wellness.

Alcohol is often considered a sedative that can help induce sleep, but the impact it has on sleep quality and the body's natural sleep-wake cycles is far more complex. Many individuals might not be aware of the nuanced ways in which alcohol disrupts melatonin production and alters sleep patterns. In this article, we'll delve into the scientific mechanisms at play, explore how alcohol interferes with our natural rhythms, and offer insights into managing alcohol consumption for better sleep health.

The Basics of Melatonin and Sleep

Melatonin Production and Sleep Cycles

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, primarily responsible for regulating the body's circadian rhythms. These rhythms dictate our natural sleep and wake cycles, influenced by light exposure and genetic factors. Melatonin production typically increases in the evening as it gets darker, peaking during the night, and decreases with the morning light. This cycle helps prepare our bodies for sleep and wakefulness, playing a crucial role in our overall health.

How Alcohol Disrupts Melatonin and Sleep

1. Suppression of Melatonin Production

Alcohol can significantly affect the secretion of melatonin. Studies have shown that consuming alcohol before bedtime can reduce the natural nighttime elevations in melatonin, leading to disturbances in the circadian rhythm. This suppression of melatonin not only makes it harder to fall asleep but also impacts the quality of sleep.

2. Alteration of Sleep Architecture

When alcohol is consumed, it can induce feelings of sleepiness, but the sleep one gets is not of good quality. Alcohol alters the structure of sleep cycles, particularly by reducing the proportion of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is crucial for cognitive functions like memory, learning, and emotional health. A reduction in REM sleep can lead to a non-restorative sleep experience, impacting overall health and well-being.

3. Increased Sleep Disruptions

As the body metabolizes alcohol, it experiences a rebound effect, which often leads to increased wakefulness during the second half of the night. This phenomenon can cause frequent awakenings and a fragmented sleep pattern, which diminishes sleep quality and can exacerbate feelings of tiredness the next day.

4. Impact on Sleep-Related Hormones and Neurotransmitters

Alcohol also affects other neurotransmitters and hormones involved in sleep regulation, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and adenosine. While alcohol initially increases the activity of GABA, which has a calming effect, this is short-lived and often leads to disturbances later in the sleep cycle. Similarly, alcohol's impact on adenosine can lead to immediate sleepiness followed by a sudden wakefulness as the effects wear off.

Strategies for Managing Alcohol Consumption for Better Sleep

Understanding the impact of alcohol on sleep is the first step toward improving sleep quality. Here are some strategies to help mitigate the negative effects of alcohol on sleep:

1. Moderation and Timing

Limit alcohol consumption to moderate levels and avoid drinking close to bedtime. Allowing several hours between drinking and sleeping can help minimize its impact on melatonin and sleep quality.

2. Hydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urine production and can lead to dehydration. Drinking plenty of water alongside alcoholic beverages and before bed can help reduce some negative effects, such as disturbed sleep and hangovers.

3. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Developing a bedtime routine that encourages relaxation can help counteract some of the sleep disturbances caused by alcohol. This might include reading, meditating, or listening to soothing music before bed.

4. Consider Alternatives

On nights when good sleep is particularly crucial, consider opting for non-alcoholic beverages. There are many non-alcoholic alternatives that can provide a similar taste and social experience without the disruptive effects on sleep.

Conclusion

While it's commonly thought that a nightcap might help one sleep better, the truth is that alcohol has a profound impact on sleep quality and the body's natural rhythms. By understanding these effects and implementing strategies to mitigate them, individuals can enjoy social occasions with alcohol while also maintaining good sleep health.

By navigating these nuances, one can enjoy a healthier relationship with alcohol while also prioritizing rest and wellness.

Alcohol and Health