The elderly and alcohol: an alcohol break helps you sleep better

You cycle, rake the garden, carry groceries, babysit the grandchildren all day, arrange dinners, build a deck: you are over 60 and you feel very fit. And yet alcohol is even more harmful for this age group – 'the elderly'. You can read here what risks there are and what effect your break period has on your sleeping behavior.

In short: the elderly are less able to tolerate alcohol because they have less body water. The alcohol is therefore distributed over less fluid and is therefore more concentrated in the body. In addition, the liver and kidneys of the elderly often work less well. The resistance can also generally be less good, so that alcohol hits harder. A relatively small amount of alcohol can sometimes already have harmful effects in the elderly. (source:

Risks of alcohol in the elderly

-high bloodpressure

-stomach problems


-sleep problems

-sexual problems


- touchiness



-disorientation and amnesia

-greater risk of falling

-medicines don't work or don't work well

How to improve your night's sleep from an alcohol break

Let's zoom in on one of the complaints mentioned above. Alcohol negatively affects your sleeping behavior. But there is light in the dark tunnel: an alcohol break increases your quality of sleep. 55% of the IkPas participants can confirm this. And participants who filled in sleep diaries in the past also had that experience. The fact that a break period contributes to a good night's sleep is therefore not an empty slogan.

Nightcap or not?

There was a time when we saw the "nightcap" as a tool to fall asleep faster and achieve a more quality sleep. This is partly true. Yes, the nightcap can help you fall asleep earlier. No, it does not improve sleep quality. It even messes up your sleep cycle.

The Sleep Cycle

The sleep cycle works like this: sleep consists of dream sleep (REM sleep) and regular, deep sleep (NREM sleep). During the night, our body goes through the cycle several times a night. Your body starts with NREM sleep, then moves on to REM sleep and back to NREM sleep. A sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. Drinking alcohol before going to sleep increases deep sleep and decreases the amount of dream sleep.

Wrong order

Drinking alcohol also has an effect on the order of your sleep cycle. Alcohol causes the first deep sleep (REM sleep) to be brought to the fore. This means that you dream earlier and the brain has to process all the information and impressions of that day faster. The second part of the night, REM sleep takes place much later, overloading the brain. Because the deep sleep does not take place proportionally, sleeping problems occur. Such as sleepwalking, talking in your sleep and sleep apnea. In addition, there is an increased risk of intense dreams or nightmares.

A nightcap, but different

If you consciously opt for an alcohol break, the chance that you will loot the fridge while sleepwalking, call out the name of the neighbor or have intense dreams about your mother-in-law. But of course it's a shame about that nightcap. We therefore went looking for alternatives, so that you can start your quality night's sleep comfortably.

- Chamomile tea: has a relaxing effect. Do you find the taste of this tea a bit too bitter? Then add a spoonful of honey.

Coconut water: is full of potassium. A substance that plays an important role in your sleep-wake rhythm.

-Almond milk: bursting with magnesium. And that is good for getting a good night's sleep. Is almond milk not one of your favorites? Then try a shake with magnesium powder.

-Lavender tea: has a calming and stress-reducing effect on the human mind. So you can fall asleep zen.

-Soy milk: with amino acid tryptophan as raw material for serotonin and melatonin which promote sleep. In other words: a good alternative sleeping aid!

-Walnut smoothie: would you rather exchange your soy milk for something nutty? Then the walnut smoothie might be for you. It also has the necessary tryptophan. Try the combination: walnuts, almond milk and banana.

-Tea with lemon balm: just like lavender, it has a relaxing effect. Getting rosy on the couch, with a blanket, a good movie and a cup of tea with lemon balm is a successful sleep recipe.





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