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Too Tired: Can Beer and Whiskey Help My Sleeping Habits?

This guy looks like I feel.  I don’t know what is going on, but for the last several weeks I have gotten into a very bad sleeping schedule.  I wake up around 5:30am every weekday.  Go to work at 6:30.  Work (and throw up these quick blog posts every day until around 4:30 or 5.  Go home, eat dinner, clean up, the do something with the kids like sports of some sort, although over the summer it is more likely that I will sit down and watch the TV for a while, and this is where the problems have arisen.

Since the kids don’t have sports in the evenings, being it is summer time and my 16 year old now drives himself to basketball practice, I flip on the TV.  I watch what ever, and around 9:30 or 10pm when I should be tired, I get a second wind that has been keeping me up past midnight most nights.  The weekends are even worse, as there is no real reason to make myself go to bed.

So as I sit here in this haze I wonder if beer and whiskey could help my plight?  I know that Alcohol is a depressant, so if I crack open a beer and or back it with a whiskey would that be enough to take the edge off and send me into a peaceful nights slumber so I can wake refreshed and ready to take on the day?

I thought I would put this question out to the Beer and Whiskey Brothers brain trust, you all.  Have you ever used alcohol as a way to induce sleep? If I am running into problems at around 9:30 or 10:00, when should I drink for optimal edge reduction? 8:00pm?  Earlier? Later?  Is there some sort of special beer or whiskey or mixed drink that you use? Do you have a drinking routine that helps you get to bed at a decent hour and helps you get better sleep?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks.

-Don

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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle, Scotch Whisky, Whiskey

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37 Comments on “Too Tired: Can Beer and Whiskey Help My Sleeping Habits?”

  1. Molly
    July 13, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    I am not a big wine drinker at all, hence the reason I subscribe to this blog, but my mom is a cougar level imbiber of the stuff. A few weeks ago I had a glass just to bond with the old girl and bam! I was out faster than you can say “Betty Ford Clinic!”

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      Oh, but its wine. Is there no beer or whiskey alternative? I don’t think I’m at the point of desperation where I would give wine a shot, but if this keeps up for a few more weeks, damn if I may have to bite the bullet and try that remedy. Thanks.

  2. July 13, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Hooray Bears!!

    Also, I thought what we did here was the antidote for sleeplessness. Read a couple of posts and we’ll bore you into a sound slumber!

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      I must be the exception to that rule, because hitting the blog at night is part of my regular routine, and it doesn’t bore me to sleep. Damn commenters keeping things interesting! Thought you would like the bear!

      • July 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

        You’ve probably built up a tolerance, like people do with Tylenol PM and other sedatives.

  3. July 13, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    The short of it is it may help you get to sleep, but most have lower quality sleep so it is often a downward spiral. I’ve battled with apnea for a while and I can say alcohol, while helps me to sleep, leaves me more tired the next day.

    http://www.hazelden.org/web/public/ade00814.page

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      Aha, I think I found a loophole! They said drinking within an hour of when you plan to go to bed. So if I have a whiskey or beer around 7:30 and finish them by 9, then go to bed at 10, I should have just enough effect to help me doze into a deep slumber. This is sounding better.

  4. July 13, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    It was always my understanding that while alcohol may help you fall asleep, it affects the quality of sleep. There’s probably a sliding scale on this though based on your body and tolerance for alcohol. For me, one beer or drink makes me incredibly tired but doesn’t seem to be enough to prevent me from getting restful sleep.

    I’d start with a beer or whiskey around 8 PM and see what happens. Try logging how you feel and tweak the time and amount of alcohol until you find that sweet sleep spot.

    If all else fails, there’s a product called Drank that’s sold for the purpose of “slowing your roll”. It’s grape flavored and mixes well with vodka. In my experience it definitely helps promote sleep. Not sure if you’re a grape and/or vodka person though.

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks Kelly, looking at the previous comment and yours, I think there is a strategy here that just might do the trick. I think the whole thing rests upon 1) not over consuming so it affects the production of serotonin and negatively impacts deep sleep, and 2) finishing whatever drink an hour before you hit the hay. God I hope this works! I’m just completely exhausted right now.

  5. FatCatKC
    July 13, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    It’s called NyQuil. But on a more seroious note I was recently perusing the “health benefits” of consuming alcohol and was quite surprised. One to two drinks a day (one for women) actually has health benefits. So I tried out the one beer a day thing and I’m not sure about my health but I accomplished all kinds of stuff. I was likely to “save up” and binge 5 or 6 in a setting. So instead of waisting an entire Saturday drinking I drink a beer everyday when I get home from work. I think I slept more soundly throughout the night when I was doing this as well. My best suggestion is one after work and turn off the TV an hour before you plan to go to sleep. And if all else fails NyQuil.

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 10:31 am #

      Yeah, that damn TV really has a hold on me at night! I think this is hereditary. My Dad would stay up late at night watching TV, every night from the time the dishes were done to well after the evening news was over, Dad laid on the floor or the couch and watched TV. He still does to this day. So Your suggestion of turning the damn thing off is a great one, but I will have to fight my heritage to get it done. NyQuil is nasty stuff, unless you have a massive head cold, then it is a Godsend.

  6. July 13, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    The comments from John and Kelly line up with what I have heard about this – mostly, alcohol may help you to sleep but it also interferes with the brain’s sleep cycle so you don’t get healthy, normal sleep.

    I know that 9:30 feels like a kid’s bedtime but when I am getting up at 5:30 AM then 9:30 PM will give me 8 hours, and hey, being an adult really means going to bed when you want. There’s barely anything worth watching on TV during the regular season, anyway, but during the summer?

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      I refuse to answer on the grounds you might find me ________. Pick your Adjective, a geek, a dumbass, a girly man, etc.

  7. July 13, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    If you wanna use whiskey, try bourbon w/ warm milk, cocoa or in eggnog. I personally, stay away from alcohol near the time I want to sleep. Instead, I drink a non-caffeine tea w/ milk, or something like mint tea. Chamomile tea (if you can stomach it–many men can’t) also is supposed to help My personal fool-proof way to fall asleep is to put on a nature DVD narrated by David Attenborough–I’m out like a light in minutes. It sounds strange but its no joke–something about his voice is mesmerizing.

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      My wife just suggested I talk to her, and that would put me to sleep for sure! Oh, the sympathy I get. Bourbon with warm milk sounds like the worst thing ever. How about just bourbon?

      • ScottG
        July 13, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

        A similar variant with scotch is the hot toddy. Great for a cold, as well. I make it with lemon herb tea, a shot of Glenlivet 12 and some honey.

  8. johnking82
    July 13, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Exercise with the kids is an easy way to go to be able to go to bed earlier. Especially exercise after work. Combine some exercise, dinner, and a beer and you’ll be asleep in no-time.

    A Makers or a 10% ABV or above generally makes me sleepy.

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Somehow John, this doesn’t surprise me, from a guy that has as his Avatar a picture of himself running. I’m thinking I will lift weights. 12 oz at a time. in a curling motion to my mouth. Bet I can get about 20 reps out of a bottle! Just kidding, that is a good suggestion, and one I’ve hear from many. Nightly walk might be just the ticket.

    • July 13, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      I agree about the exercise. I walk to and from work (a total of 3 miles a day) and that helps a lot. And it makes me ready to have a beer when I get home!

      • Don
        July 13, 2011 at 11:05 am #

        Is your car broken Will? Unfortunately I have a 40 mile commute, so walking is not recommended.

        • July 13, 2011 at 11:17 am #

          We live close to downtown where I work and have found numerous advantages to only having the one car that the wife drives. In addition to the obvious health benefits, we like not contributing to Denver’s brown cloud. The extra money in our pockets from not having an additional car are nice as well.

          A stroll around the neighborhood once you get home might help with the sleep situation as well.

        • Don
          July 13, 2011 at 11:21 am #

          Good thoughts Will. Not to be a nugge, but I bet you have to pay more for housing to live so close in, so I’m guessing the additional car costs are a wash, but clearly you have the benefit of not having maintenance headaches etc, associated with two vehicles, or like at my house 5.

        • July 13, 2011 at 11:28 am #

          We lived in the boonies when I was growing up, so I know where you’re coming from. We usually had about 4 cars around the house then; I learned how to work on cars from an early age.

        • Don
          July 13, 2011 at 11:39 am #

          I’m afraid the days of the shade tree mechanic are long behind us. The car I have now, I think it doesn’t have an engine, but a table. When I pop the hood on it, it looks like a table all clad in plastic cowlings with just a few knobs for dip sticks etc showing. Took over an hour to change a headlamp once, and that was at the auto shop.

  9. July 13, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    During the work week I have two beers after getting home from work every day, usually finishing the second one around 7-7:30, going to bed sometime between 9-10, and I sleep well. For me the key is having the beers early, and getting to bed early; you can still be a man and get to bed early. If that doesn’t work, just down a couple of high ABV beers for Happy Hour 🙂

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      Good advice Will. I will employ it tonight and let you know if it helps. And then if i ever feel unmanly, I’ll just look at my enormous penis…

      • johnking82
        July 13, 2011 at 11:13 am #

        do have lots of those circus type fun mirrors at your house then?

        One thing that hasn’t been mentioned that usually puts me to sleep afterwards is wrestling with the wife. Back in the day, lots of people wrestled bears. It can be done.

        • Don
          July 13, 2011 at 11:15 am #

          Yeah, the place looks like Pee Wee’s playhouse! Hmmm…Bear wrestling? Hmmm….

        • johnking82
          July 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

          be careful, if you look at comic 3…it could be your downfall!
          http://www.thingsbearslove.com/

  10. Rick
    July 13, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    I usually have a shot or two of whiskey from 8 to 9 pm, then hit the sack at 10 pm. Highly recommend it. Occasionally I get so wired at work that I have tried up to 4 shots. Not good for me, more than 2 drinks is just a negative. Also, I usually take a day or two off every week, just to keep my body guessing.

    I love beer, but two of them will wake me up to pee a couple of times. Whiskey seems to have no such impact.

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 11:37 am #

      Good thoughts Rick. I wouldn’t have thought about the beer and the midnight pee, but it makes sense. Too bad, I can only drink whiskey…poor me.

  11. July 13, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Its the warm milk that makes you sleepy–and don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it. A shot of Maker’s Mark or Benchmark in your cocoa might just do the trick for you.

    Here’s a recipe from Emeril for Spiced and Spiked Hot Cocoa
    Ingredients
    4 cup whole milk
    1 cinnamon (stick)
    2 star anise
    12 lime (zested)
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    14 tsp grated nutmeg
    11.5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
    6-8 tbsp bourbon
    whipped cream (lightly sweetened whipped cream for garnishing if desired)
    Directions
    In a 2-quart saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the chocolate, bourbon and cream. Heat over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will bubble over. Add the chocolate to the pan and continue to cook over low heat, stirring or whisking until all of the chocolate has melted. Continue to cook the cocoa for another 10 minutes to allow all of the flavors to blend. Remove the cocoa from the heat, add the bourbon or brandy to the pan, and stir to combine. Serve the cocoa in warm mugs, topped with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired. (Note: You can make the non-alcoholic mixture in advance so that all you have to do is heat the mixture and then add the whiskey to taste.)

    and another for Bourbon Milk Punch :
    Highball Glass
    2 oz bourbon whiskey
    3 oz half-and-half
    1 tsp superfine sugar
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    1/4 tspgrated nutmeg

    In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the bourbon, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla extract. Shake well. Strain into a highball glass and garnish with the nutmeg.

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 11:42 am #

      Those sound very different than bourbon and milk, but well worth trying! Thanks. 🙂

  12. July 13, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Funny you posted this. I was at Brewforia yesterday and Rick said I just missed you. Then he went on to say that you were not yourself at all. He said you looked tired and none of your normal joking and fun verbal jabs.

    Thank god I don’t have this problem. Give me a semi-horizontal place to lay down any time of day and I can be out in 15 minutes. My wife has your exact problem, though. She’ll be dead tired after work, but 10:00 pm rolls around and it’s like someone gave her a triple-shot—and then she can’t get to sleep until after midnight or even later. She often has a glass of wine or a beer about an hour or so before she goes to bed. Seems to help her.

    You know this could be a total win. Your sleep aid can also be a new beer or whiskey review every night! Make this a little experiment and blog about it! Oh, and turn off the effing TV!

    • Don
      July 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      Nag, Nag, Nag…that’s all you and my wife do when it comes to the TV. Just kidding, I know you’re right about that, but I just can’t get into print media. Maybe I’ll re-subscribe to my car mags. Gave them up when the kids were little. I too could go to sleep on a dime wen they were small like yours, because they just drained every ounce of energy I had. Wow, I even looked bad. That’s not good.

      • July 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

        If I am, I’m nagging you to quaff a beer or a whiskey every night! Just looking out for your best interest, Don (and the blog’s).

        Here’s what Dr. @BeerPoet prescribes: 1. Switch the TV off. 2. Enjoy a whiskey or a beer. 3. Jot down a few notes about what you had for B&WB (that will take about an hour I suspect). 4. Then hit the sack. You get to enjoy a beverage. We get to have a few more reviews. And maybe your sleeping ills are cured! :^)

    • July 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      Like the idea Chad. Don’s Nightcap posts. It’ll be the Motel 8 stuff, but the plastic glasses will be in his living room!

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