More than half (58%) of people who drink alcohol do not realise it can cause sleep problems, according to a survey carried out for the government.
The YouGov survey of 1,954 drinkers showed that people were unaware that they were losing valuable sleep and disrupting vital brain functions because of drinking above the recommended daily limits of alcohol.
The research for the Government’s Know Your Limits campaign, which aims to inform people about how many units are in alcoholic drinks, found that more men (63%) than women (53%) were ignorant of the link.
Almost half (45%) of those surveyed admitted to experiencing tiredness the day after drinking over the recommended daily limits, but many people did not realise this could be due to alcohol interfering with their normal, restful sleep.
Public health minister, Gillian Merron said: “Lots of people don't realise that drinking too much can disrupt your sleep, leave you dehydrated and unable to remember parts of your evening.
“On top of this, drinking too much can affect your longer-term health, putting you at an increased risk of liver disease, stroke and cancer.”
The DH said drinking late in the evening before going to bed was more likely to prevent a person from getting quality sleep. It tended to upset a person’s sleep patterns, encourage dehydration, and alter the blood pressure of the brain.
Jessica Alexander, spokesperson for the Sleep Council said: “Although many people may feel alcohol helps them get off to sleep, it is also a major culprit for disrupting your night as it can interfere with the body’s chemical processes needed for sound sleep.
“Waking up deprived of the vital sleep your body needs will leave you feeling drained and, if experienced night after night, can seriously affect your health and wellbeing.”
The NHS recommends women do not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day (a large 250ml glass of 12% wine is 3 units) and men do not regularly drink more than 3-4 units (a pint of 5.2% beer is 3 units).
Statistics show that more than 10million adults in England regularly exceed these limits.
Ms Alexander added: “If you find yourself drinking above the recommended daily limits most days of the week, your body may be constantly trying to catch up and then it’s likely you’ll never feel fully alert or equipped to deal with the stresses and strains of daily life.”
Chris Sorek, chief executive of Drinkaware, the charity that promotes responsible drinking, said: “People should be aware that alcohol affects quality of sleep – which can make the ‘morning after’ feeling even more unbearable because of tiredness.
“To get the best 40 winks possible, it’s a good idea to keep within the daily unit guidelines and avoid drinking too close to bedtime.”