Drinking alcohol or smoking more disruptive for sleep than caffeine

sleepDrinking alcohol or smoking before bed can be more disruptive for sleep patterns than drinking coffee, research shows.

A study at Florida Atlantic University used sensors to study the sleep of 785 people.

It found those that drink alcohol or smoke four hours before going to bed experienced more disruptive sleep patterns.

‘This study represents one of the largest longitudinal examinations of the associations of evening use of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine with objectively measured sleep outcomes,’ Dr Christine Spadola, of Florida Atlantic University, said in the journal Sleep.

‘A night with use of nicotine/alcohol within four hours of bedtime demonstrated worse sleep continuity than a night without.

‘We didn’t observe an association between ingestion of caffeine within four hours of bed with any of the sleep parameters.

‘This was a surprise to us but is not unprecedented.

‘The previous evidence is mixed when it comes to the effect of caffeine on sleep.’


Nicotine was most strongly associated with sleep disruption, with an average 42-minute reduction in the time spent asleep.

That’s despite around 40% of the group consuming caffeine on at least one night of the study.

Current NHS recommendations include cutting down on tea, coffee and energy drinks before bed due to the caffeine content.

‘The findings support the importance of sleep health recommendations, which promote the restriction of evening nicotine and alcohol,’ Ms Spadola added.

Plans to eliminate smoking

The government recently announced ambitious plans to eliminate smoking from Britain by 2030.

Tobacco companies will be required to cover the cost of helping smokers to quit by 2030.

Actions to help people quit include leaflets placed inside cigarette packets and targeting black market cigarettes.

‘The gains in tobacco control have been hard-won, and there’s still much to do,’ the plans say.

‘For the 15% of adults who are not yet smoke-free, smoking is the leading cause of ill-health and early death, and a major cause of inequalities.

‘That’s why the government wants to finish the job.’

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