NIX the NIGHTCAP?
For many, having a nightcap is a calming way to end a hectic day. But those nightcaps might actually do more damage than good in the long run. According to a recently released study reported on by science daily, alcohol use can disrupt the body’s natural clock and sleeping patterns for days after consumption ends. Scientists studied hamsters which were given doses of alcohol. They found that drinking affects the “master clock” in the brain and changes its ability to sync the body’s schedule to daylight and darkness and altering circadian rhythm for days at a time. This disruption has wide-ranging ramifications on sleep, appetite, digestion, activity levels, and more. In addition, it may also raise the risk of cancer, heart disease, depression, and other illnesses. Animals in the study exposed to alcohol tended to wake up more slowly when exposed to dim light, had fewer bouts of activity during the day, and woke up earlier than other hamsters when withdrawn from alcohol for two to three days. The alcohol-using hamsters also were unnaturally active at night. The study appeared in the September issue of the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.