Pouring a drink takes the edge off after a stressful day at the office, but you can thank your good friend Jack Daniels when you feel groggy the next morning. While alcohol helps you fall asleep fast, it disrupts deep sleep cycles later in the night, according to a new study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
According to British researchers, alcohol—even a small amount; we’re not talking about getting wasted here—reduces the time you spend in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deepest type of shut-eye. Cutting REM sleep short can impact your concentration, motor skills, and memory. You’ll also feel less rested when you wake up.
If you have trouble de-stressing or drifting off, keep the liquor cabinet closed and try one of these smarter sleep aids instead.
Hit the gym after work. Almost any form of exercise can reduce stress and help you sleep better. Not only does a sweat session help your body produce mood-boosting brain chemicals, it also clears your head. After an intense workout, we doubt you’re dwelling on what went wrong during your 4:00 meeting.
Steep a cup of chamomile tea. The herbal drink is caffeine-free and can have a calming effect on the body.
Prep a late night snack. Eat a bowl of air-popped popcorn. The carbohydrates can boost tryptophan levels in your brain and help your body produce snooze-inducing serotonin.
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