By: Linsey Harrison, MD
According to the CDC, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease. However, excessive alcohol consumption may increase your risk of heart disease and other serious health problems, including pancreatitis, liver disease, certain cancers, stroke, and high blood pressure. Alcohol also makes you more prone to snoring and sleep apnea. Alcohol can also have a negative effect on sleep quality. While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, before you are truly rested. Alcohol may inhibit REM sleep, which is the most restorative type of sleep. This can lead to daytime drowsiness and poor concentration. The more a person drinks before bed, the stronger the disruption.
Alcohol abuse can harm your relationships, cause you to miss work/school, and lead to legal problems such as DUIs. When a person abuses alcohol, they continue to drink even though they know alcohol is causing problems. You should talk to your doctor if you are a woman who has more than three drinks at one time or more than seven drinks a week, or if you are a man who has more than four drinks at one time or more than 14 drinks in one week. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, your doctor might recommend counseling, medical detox, or support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.