Posted by: beagle4 | March 30, 2011

Care for a Drink?

With E-Days coming up, I thought it would be fitting to have a post about the effects alcohol has on dreams. For me personally whenever I have a drink, regardless of the quantity consumed, my dreams always seem more vivid and kind of crazy/unusual. I generally have interesting dreams under normal circumstances though, so it is difficult for me to tell if the alcohol is the cause or just a coincidence.

Outside of the college campus, alcohol is used extensively as a sleep aid in the general population. In a recent survey, 28% of insomniacs indicated that they had used alcohol to help them fall asleep. The use of drugs and intoxicating drinks was also common in almost all ancient societies in order to enhance the experience of dreaming. The ancient Greeks used hallucinatory substances for religious purposes and various Dionysian cults encouraged their celebrants into ecstatic dream-like states through the use of wine.

The overall effects of alcohol on sleep are complex and somewhat paradoxical. Experiments on healthy, non-alcoholic volunteers revealed that the amount of relaxed, deep sleep (Stage 4, delta-wave sleep) increases, while the amount of REM sleep decreases. This creates the impression that one has slept more deeply and soundly. In order to observe these sleeping effects, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 50-milligram percent (0.05%) or greater is needed (In Colorado, a DUI is 0.08% BAC or greater). Since alcohol is metabolized rapidly, by the middle of the night individuals that had a few drinks earlier, will have withdrawal symptoms. These may include shallow sleep and multiple awakenings, REM rebound (explained below) associated with nightmares or vivid dreams, sweating, and general activation.

If you have the same amount of alcohol for three to four nights and then stop drinking (E-days weekend…), during the latter half of sleep you may experience an increased amount of REM sleep and increased wakefulness or light sleep. This is also known as an REM rebound, where the length, frequency, and depth of REM sleep increases. This, however, is not consistent for non-alcoholics, but may still occur. Also, alcoholics may experience intensely disturbing nightmares during withdrawal. (source)

I hope everyone has a good E-Days, and maybe make a note of how the alcohol is effecting your dreams.

Now just close your eyes and dream…

(Image may change later)


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