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Sleep & Alcohol

It’s a bigger nightmare than you think.

When you sleep like a baby, you wake up a lion.

Your secret weapon for being sharp, healthy, and strong — body, mind, and soul — is consistently getting great sleep. It improves your resilience, recharges your body, and supports a high-powered, high-performance lifestyle.

It’s the foundation of a kick-ass life.

Sadly, though, most of us guys aren’t getting good sleep.

Hell, we rarely even prioritize it.

Sure, those of us that do may try all sorts of supplements, devices, and hacks to improve our sleep. We may even meditate in an attempt to wind down and get more rest.

But we still wake up groggy, rely too heavily on caffeine, and struggle to stay on top of things during the day.

I hate to break it to you, but if you’re reading this, no matter what you might be doing to improve your sleep, your efforts are being actively sabotaged by one of your best buds:

Alcohol.

What Sleep Does For Your Body & Mind

But before exploring how alcohol trashes our sleep, it will be helpful to understand how great sleep actually turbocharges our performance.

News flash: it does a lot more than you may think.

Here are just a few things that happen in our bodies when we sleep.

1. Sleep helps us recover.

When we sleep, our brains and bodies remain incredibly active, carrying out essential “housekeeping” functions that optimize and repair every system in our bodies and minds.

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Memory Consolidation

Our brains process and consolidate memories from the day, making it easier to get things done when we wake up.

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Mental Health

A calm, rested brain is more emotionally resilient and equipped to handle tomorrow’s stress, putting us in a more positive mood and headspace.

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Muscle Repair

During sleep, our bodies release key hormones for optimal health. including growth hormone and testosterone, essential for muscle repair and growth.

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Detoxification

Our brains clear out toxins and waste products that accumulate throughout the day, keeping our minds sharp and our thinking clear.

2. Sleep helps our bodies regulate.

Our bodies are made up of hundreds of interconnected systems. Good sleep keeps them all playing nicely with each other. Achieving this balance is essential to staying healthy.

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Stress Management

As we sleep, our cortisol levels are optimized, lowering our anxiety levels for the next day and preventing chronic stress from aging us faster.

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Autonomic Nervous System

Sleep regulates our autonomic nervous system, which optimizes our bodies’ involuntary functions like heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, and sex drive.

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Cardiovascular Health

Want to lower the chance of cardiac events? Blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate and overall cardiovascular health ALL benefit from consistent, quality sleep.

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Appetite Control

Quality sleep restores critical hormones we need to support sustained energy and overall metabolic health, balances hunger hormones like ghrelin and leptin, and helps us maintain a healthy weight.

3. Sleep helps with resilience & performance.

Sleep builds up the body’s defenses and makes us stronger – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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Immune System Boost

Sleep produces cytokines, which makes us less prone to illnesses and helps us recover faster when we do get sick.

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Reaction Time

Sleep enhances our reaction time and reflexes, which helps us with quick decision-making and physical coordination.

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Pain Tolerance

Sleep enhances the brain’s ability to process and manage pain signals, increasing your body’s pain tolerance.

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Cognitive Performance

Deep sleep improves cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.

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Emotional Stability

Good sleep enhances our mood, reduces irritability, and enhances our ability to cope with stresses of life.

To sum it all up – each of these (not so) little things sleep does for us add up to one BIG thing:

You at your best.

With great sleep, you’re literally going to be smarter, healthier, and happier. You’re setting yourself up to have a lot more fun…and make a lot more money.

Without it, though, you are making performing at your best nearly impossible to achieve.

How Alcohol Screws You While You Sleep

Before I go on, I want to give you a giant disclaimer:

I am about to talk a bunch of shit about booze.

It’s not going to be fun to see how deep this rabbit hole goes.

But here at Booze Vacation, we believe you’re going to have a lot more fun for a LOT longer if you can better understand what recreational drinking is actually doing to you, both in the short term and the long term.

In the sections below, I’m mostly going to focus on how alcohol poorly affects our sleep — and then how all of that bad sleep compounds into results you might like to avoid.

The $10B per year ad spend from the alcohol companies, let alone on studies and lobbying, have convinced us that moderate drinking is healthy and a great way to kick back, relax, and spend time with family and friends.

As you’re about to see, they’re not telling you the whole story.

1. On the Nights You Drink, Alcohol Hammers Your Sleep

I hear it all the time: “I have trouble falling asleep without a drink or two.”

The way a drink will mellow us out, let alone that feeling of passing out after a big night with the boys, dupes most of us into thinking that alcohol is good for sleep.

Unfortunately, it’s not.

In reality, even a couple of drinks can lower your sleep quality by up to 40%.

And that’s just after a couple!!!

Alcohol tanks your sleep in three main ways:

Your body can’t rest well when it’s revving up to detoxify a poison out of your system.

The additional workload you just tasked your body with elevates your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rates — all of which directly impacts your body’s ability to recover during the night and hit the ground running in the morning.

Alcohol easily passes through the blood-brain barrier, fragmenting both deep sleep and REM sleep.

This fragmented sleep causes you to frequently wake up throughout the night, even if you don’t remember doing so. That’s why, after drinking the night before, you wake up so tired — even if you thought you were out cold.

Third, alcohol is a diuretic.

While your fragmented sleep has you waking up without realizing it, your bladder is also going to be making you get out of bed to pee. Add in some dehydration on top of that, and you’re not going to get a great night of z’s and feel ready to rock and roll the next morning.

If all of this wasn’t enough, in the days that follow, all of your body’s systems that are supported by good sleep are also going to get whacked out.

I told you the rabbit hole goes deeper than you think.

You’re about to see how, when you drink…

…in the name of a good time…

You’re essentially kicking your own ass.

2. Bad Sleep Tanks Your Quality of Life in the Short Term

Alcohol-induced bad sleep does more than leave you tired the next day.

It screws up your body’s systems that help you kick ass and take names.

With alcohol disrupting your REM sleep, your body reduces production of critical hormones that restore and recharge your body, especially the ones like dopamine and serotonin that make you look and feel your best.

Moreover, both drinking and bad sleep tank your testosterone levels. This lower testosterone negatively impacts mission-critical things like your ability to concentrate, your energy and motivation, your muscle synthesis, and your libido.

Talk about a swift kick to the nuts!

Here’s another one:

Booze is estrogenic.

So while your T is tanking, your body is finding it easier to convert muscle into love handles, beer bellies, and manboobs.

But if that wasn’t enough, here’s the final kicker: your efforts to wind down with a drink in hand actually end up leading to higher stress.

Without good sleep regulating your cortisol levels, and with regular drinking changing your brain to elevate your baseline cortisol, you’ve got more of the “stress hormone” coursing through your veins. All day. Every day.

All of these effects of bad sleep and booze ultimately keep you from having the quality of life you really want to have.

As it messes with your performance and You’re going to find it harder to stick with the good habits that keep you healthy.

You’re going to find it harder to perform and achieve at a high level.

You’re going to find it harder to relax and feel present.

And you’re going to find it a hell of a lot harder to get out of this cycle of bad sleep.

It’s just going to feel too easy to crack one open to take the edge off at the end of a long day.

3. Booze-Induced Bad Sleep Screws You in the Long Term

I hope by now you can see what drinking does to your sleep isn’t something you can just paper over with a couple extra cups of coffee.

If only it were that easy.

After all, a lot is going on in your body that a double shot of espresso can’t fix.

Unfortunately, as the years go by, bad sleep and booze affect more than just your daily quality of life.

Your health and happiness are also likely to pay the price.

With regular drinking hammering your sleep, it’s going to speed up aging, reduce your performance, probably impact your earning potential, make you look older than you actually are, increase your stress, and keep you from absolutely crushing it.

It’s also going to put your health at risk.

With alcohol trashing your sleep, it’s likely a litany of pre-disease conditions are accelerating in your body, ones that can result in chronic conditions like:

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high blood pressure

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blood sugar issues

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heart problems

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multiple types of cancer

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Alzheimer’s and mental health challenges

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IBS and other digestive conditions

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chronic inflammation

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sleep apnea

Yikes.

Once diseases like these kick in, they will shave a lot of quality years off the one life you’ve got. And in the end, while the alcohol itself won’t necessarily kill you, the ripple effects it has on your sleep and your health probably will.

I don’t know about you, but even though I like cracking open some cold ones, I don’t want to go down like that.

I’d rather kick ass and take names for as long as I possibly can.

So…what’s a guy to do about all this?

When my sleep issues came to a head in my 40s, it made me desperate. I tried practically everything I could find on the market to improve my sleep.

I spent over $5k on C-Pap machines and mouth appliances, and then another $6k on orthodontic work to repair my bite after a mouth guard screwed it up.

I also doubled down on my clean eating and fitness regimens, and I tried all the supplements in the book.

None of it worked.

I still woke up groggy and tired, often feeling like I’d been hit with a bat. I was struggling at work in areas I’d normally knock it out of the park with my eyes closed. And I pounded the caffeine, but it was a law of diminishing returns.

The whole time, I knew nothing about how my regular, semi-responsible drinking was messing up my sleep and throwing my body out of whack.

If I had, it would have saved me a ton of time, money, and wasted days.

That’s ultimately why I’ve been talking all of this shit about booze with you.

Because once I started learning this information, it changed everything.

It can for you, too.

If you want to make some changes to stop tanking your sleep and get smarter with your drinking, you’ve essentially got three options.

One is a dead end, one is a grand slam, and one starts getting you headed in the right direction.

It’s time to choose your own adventure, my friend.

Click a button below to see your options.

 

Option 1: “Cut back” on booze and try to get healthier

This path is most guys’ go-to move.

But if you’re serious about improving your sleep, your health, and your future, it’s ultimately a dead end.

Think about it for a sec.

Even if you’re ingesting alcohol in diminished amounts, you’re still triggering all of the negative physiological effects we discussed above — just a little less aggressively.

Moreover, you’re still creating strong headwinds that make it harder to do all the healthy things you’re trying to do. You’re still going to have less testosterone than you should. Your stress will still be higher. Your mental clarity and sharpness will still be taking a hit.

Eventually, most of the time for most guys, something has to give when they cut back.

Usually, it’s the healthy habits…and the cutting back.

If you want to kick ass and take names as long as possible, that’s not going to get you to where you want to go.

Option 2: Take an extended break from drinking.

For me, taking a purposeful break from alcohol was the one thing that changed everything.

While my buddies kept heading down the road I had been on, popping prescriptions and getting expensive and painful surgeries that only had marginal effects, I got off my C-Pap machine and started getting great sleep for the first time in decades.

It felt like the fog that had been following me for as long as I could remember had finally lifted.

Not only was I sleeping great, but my energy shot up, I dropped some weight, and everything I was already doing to get healthy got turbocharged.

But that’s just my story.

Think about it for yourself.

How much would your life improve if you could consistently sleep great and wake up more rested?

Imagine waking up every day with more energy and clarity. Imagine having sustained energy to get you through the afternoon. Imagine having more gas in the tank for hanging out, going to the gym, and having fun. Imagine the dark circles being gone from under your eyes, dropping weight, and feeling better than you have in years.

That’s what will happen when you get fed up with booze trashing your sleep and take an extended break from drinking.

Better yet, as your sleep improves in the first few weeks of a 3-12 month break, all the other systems in your body will start experiencing positive compounding effects. Your brain, energy, and hormone levels will begin to recalibrate and optimize. Great sleep will literally start to heal your body.

Once that starts happening, the sky’s the limit.

Option 3: Start experimenting to see if what I’m saying is true.

If you’re not ready to take a break, I get it.

But it’s still 100% mission-critical to do something to get smarter with your drinking, starting today.

I hope you can see by now that cutting back, doubling down on sleep hacks, and trying to be healthier will only help so much as long as alcohol is reducing your sleep quality by 20-40% or more on the regular.

If you’re going to drink, you can’t keep letting alcohol trash your sleep. You’ve got to do something to get some of your sleep quality back.

Here are four science-backed, bro-tested ways you can do just that:

Stop drinking after 7pm.

If you don’t want alcohol to sabotage your sleep, skip the night cap. Ideally, you want 3-4 hours for your body to process the alcohol before your head hits the pillow. Allow for even more time if you have 3+ servings.

Avoid alcohol for 1-2+ nights before you need to be on your A-game.

Not only will you get better sleep, but you’ll also keep the short-term effects of drinking — like brain fog, increased inflammation, lower testosterone, and feeling a little depressed — from throwing you off. (And if you really want to take this tip to the next level, stop drinking on weeknights altogether.)

If you struggle with insomnia, take a mini-break from drinking.

Studies have shown that drinking and insomnia often go hand in hand. It’s common for people who drink recreationally to struggle to fall asleep OR wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. Two weeks off the sauce may give you a glimpse into whether alcohol is exacerbating sleep problems like these.

If you really want to see how alcohol affects your sleep, get a wearable.

Grab an Oura Ring or other wearable with a good sleep tracker. Pay attention to your sleep metrics on the nights you drink. They will be laughably bad when compared to the nights that you don’t.

To start getting smarter with your drinking, try one or more of these tips out. As you do, pay close attention to how drinking impacts not just your sleep, but how you look, feel, and perform that week.

Now I have to warn you—many guys find these “smarter drinking tips” work kind of like a gateway drug towards taking their own extended break.

Once you know the science behind alcohol’s effects, and once you start to experience the benefits of making some small changes like these, you can’t unsee this stuff.

And that’s a good thing.

Because whether or not you’re getting good sleep, on its own, regular alcohol use will still be messing with your testosterone, stress, brain, food choices, and more.

If you want to set yourself up to truly kick ass and take names long term, you’ve still got to do something about that.

Now, the ball is in your court.

Don’t bury your head in the sand or continue to kick the beer can down the road.

It’s time for a different approach.

To revolutionize your sleep and quality of life, consider taking a break from booze — or at least get curious and start experimenting with how your drinking affects you.

It’s time to stop being content with letting alcohol trash your sleep.

It’s time to start feeling and performing better.

It’s time to get smarter with your drinking.

The payoff is just too good — and the consequences too severe — to let your good times turn your life into a living nightmare.