Keeping A Level Head At Work

Nightcaps: Are They A Problem?

A nightly drink (or nightcap) is often used to calm the nerves of a variety of people, but could they be setting themselves up for addiction? Does a nightcap necessarily indicate an alcohol problem? And are there any benefits of this practice?

Nightcaps Don't Necessarily Indicate Problem Drinking

Technically, drinking one alcoholic beverage at night (such as a nightcap) does not indicate a drinking problem. Experts typically state that a man should have no more than four drinks in one day or 14 in a week, while women can have one less in a day and half the weekly total. So a nightcap is in line with both healthy male and female alcoholic drinking patterns.

However, the problem with nightcaps is that they are drunk at home alone, which means it can be easy for one drink to turn into two, for two to turn into three, and so on. This is especially true if someone is drinking to calm their nerves to sleep: more and more might be necessary before the sedative effect kicks in for them.

Nightcaps Don't Help With Sleep

That's right: nightcaps are actually counter-intuitive to a good night's sleep. This runs counter to the nearly 15% of the people in the country who use a nightcap to fall asleep. What is happening here? Well, alcohol may sedate you and help you fall asleep quickly, it actually disrupts your natural sleep patterns.

Essentially, it causes your circadian rhythms (your sleep pattern) to speed up and cause you to wake up sooner than if you hadn't drank anything at all. Even worse, your body will get used to the sedation of alcohol after a few nights, nullifying its effects.

Are There Any Benefits To A Nightcap?

Oddly, studies have shown that a drink of wine before bed may serve as a great appetite deterrent for people who love midnight snacking. In fact, a study at Harvard University found that women who drank a half a bottle of wine a day (about two glasses) decreased their risk of obesity when compared to women who did not.

While it may be true that a wine nightcap can help promote weight loss, it's probably best to just skip out on drinking before bed. After all, if your nightcap can't help you sleep and in fact only exasperates sleep problems, it's not doing its job properly. And you have no chance of becoming an alcoholic if you avoid drinking every day. For more information on how to recover from a drinking habit, contact a local alcohol rehab center.