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Alcohol Dependence For Sleep Perceptions May Result In Alcoholism

Deirdre A. Conroy conducted a new study about alcoholism and published the results in the December issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.// The study highlighted 3 main points:

· Alcohol can help people initially fall asleep, but leads to poor-quality sleep later in the night.

· Escalated consumption of alcohol to aid sleep can lead to alcoholism.

· Inaccurate sleep perceptions among alcoholics in early recovery may predict relapse to drinking.

Alcohol can initially have sleep-inducing effects among non-alcoholics, but once drinking becomes chronic, alcohol's effects on sleep become much more negative in nature. New findings indicate that individuals in early recovery from alcoholism who have inaccurate sleep perceptions are more likely to return to drinking.

"The usual perception of alcohol's effects on sleep in nonalcoholics is that it helps sleep," explained Deirdre A. Conroy, the corresponding author who conducted the research while a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. "In truth, alcohol may help people fall asleep but it usually leads to poor quality sleep in the second half of the night and overall less deep sleep. As people drink more regularly across nights to fall asleep, they become tolerant to the sedating effects of alcohol and subsequently use more alcohol each night to help fall asleep. This escalation in drinking can lead to alcoholism."

Conroy and her colleagues examined 18 individuals with insomnia (9 males, 9 females) who were also in early recovery from alcohol dependence. Each participant underwent polysomnography (PSG) for two nights, three weeks apart. Participants also provided morning estimates of sleep onset latency (SOL) or the time it takes to fall asleep, wake time after sleep onset (WASO), total sleep time (TST), and sleep efficiency (SE), a measure of sleep continuity. After complete PSG results were recorded, participants were asked to give in
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