Drinking alcohol before bed may help you fall asleep faster, but sleep experts have found that the overall quality of that sleep is compromised when you drink before sleeping.

Studies conducted at the University of Melbourne showed that brainwave patterns become disrupted when alcohol is present in the system when going to sleep. The brain and body are not able to go through complete sleep cycles, affecting the overall quality of rest and rejuvenation that happens when we go to sleep.

The study was led by Dr. Christian Nicholas. His team recruited 24 healthy adults between 18 and 21 years old who drank less than seven drinks per week in the 30 days leading up to the study.

The test subjects had electrodes stuck to their heads to measure their brainwaves as they slept. First, after being given a nightcap of orange juice with vodka, then only a placebo of orange juice with a straw dipped in vodka.

The researchers found that when the sleeping test subjects were given the nightcap, their brains were unable to cycle through normal delta wave activity during sleep. In addition to this, their alpha wave patterns were heightened, which normally only happens when someone is awake but resting.

According to experts, alpha waves inhibit the body's ability to perform restorative functions that happen while sleeping.

In fact, the test subjects' brain patterns more closely resembled the activity of someone sleeping with chronic pain problem or someone who was being given electric shocks as they were sleeping.

In a statement released by the researchers, Nicholas said the message is to avoid alcohol to help you drift off to sleep.

"The take-home message here is that alcohol is not actually a particularly good sleep aid even though it may seem like it helps you get to sleep quicker. In fact, the quality of the sleep you get is significantly altered and disrupted," he said.

The full study will be published in the Feb. 2015 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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