A couple of glasses of wine at home or among friends is meant to be enjoyed, but sometimes it can have you dreaming of your warm bed. It seems one minute you’re the life of the party, and the next you’re snoring up a storm in a deep slumber.
So, if you’re wondering why wine makes you tired and looking for ways to prevent that hazy feeling you get when you drink said beverage, you’re in the right place!
Why Does Wine Make You Tired?
Being tired can really put a damper on your day, to the point it feels like all the strength has been sucked out of you. While lack of sleep can certainly make you feel fatigued, wine can also have the same effects.
Wine contains alcohol, which is a central nervous system depressant. One of the effects of alcohol on your body is drowsiness, so this is one of the reasons you can feel heavy-eyed after drinking wine.
In your brain are GABA-A receptors that bind to GABA neurotransmitters, giving entry to the inside of the neurons and letting chloride ions through.
This results in the neurons slowing down, causing sleepiness and relaxation.
When you drink alcohol, it intensifies this effect. It takes roughly 20 minutes for the alcohol in wine to enter your bloodstream and get absorbed.
Here, the alcohol molecules access the blood-brain barrier, which they can do easily due to their minute size.
Once through, they start tampering with the GABA-A receptors, resulting in enhanced effects of the entire process. This includes tiredness.
The potency of the effects of alcohol is different for everyone. Some wine drinkers might find they’re a little sleepy after a few glasses, while others might get so tired they’re on the brink of passing out.
Why Does Red Wine Make Me More Sleepy Than White Wine?
A good red wine can have you greedily downing glass after glass, but for some, that comes at a cost: a sleepy one!
“Why does red wine make me more sleepy than white wine?” is a common question asked by many wine drinkers, but does it hold any truth?
Melatonin is present in grape skins, a hormone released by your brain that’s responsible for helping you maintain sleep patterns and circadian rhythm.
Red wine is made with the grape skins left whole. White wine, on the other hand, contains grapes with the skins removed before fermentation.
As melatonin is only present in the skin of grapes, it’s true that red wine has more melatonin in it than white wine.
It’s also been found that different types of grapes have varying amounts of melatonin in them.
For example, Nebbiolo grapes that are used to make Barbaresco and Barolo wine contain high levels of melatonin. Wines like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are also high in melatonin.
Wines produced from the Cabernet Franc grape, in comparison, have moderately low levels of melatonin.
However, a glass of red wine can contain anywhere between 60 and 120 nanograms of melatonin. To put it into perspective, melatonin pills used for insomnia contain around 10,000 times as much.
It’s unlikely you’ll drink enough red wine to experience the same type of drowsiness as you would if you took a melatonin pill.
So, if you’re feeling sleepy after a drink of red wine, it’s probably due to several factors, such as how much you’ve drunk, what you’ve eaten beforehand, and how much sleep you got the night before.
Does Wine Make You More Tired Than Other Alcohol?
There’s no evidence to suggest that wine makes you more tired than other alcoholic drinks.
That said, the skin of red grapes contains melatonin, the hormone our bodies naturally produce to regulate our circadian rhythms (i.e., 24-hour internal clock).
How Do You Stop Wine Making You Sleepy?
It’s never fun when you can’t keep your eyes open after a few glasses of wine, especially if the company you’re with is still raring to go. But how do you stop wine from making you sleepy?
Although a large part of the effects of wine depends on your overall alcohol tolerance and how many glasses you’ve had, there are a few ways to decrease your chances of falling asleep before the party’s over.
Get a Good Amount of Sleep the Night Before
If you’re planning on drinking wine the next day, ideally, you want to get a good amount of sleep the night before. That’s because how much sleep you get is related to the intensity of the effects of alcohol.
Due to alcohol being a central nervous system depressant, it slows down certain parts of your brain and has a sedating effect. If you’re already tired from a bad night’s sleep the previous day, drinking wine will only enhance that sensation.
Additionally, sleep deprivation and drinking alcohol can make you feel tipsier than you actually are.
Scott Swartzwelder states that’s due to alcohol strengthening the side effects that come with lack of sleep, making you less alert overall.
If you want to prevent falling into a sleepy stupor after a wine-drinking session, you might want to get yourself an early night the day before so you can squeeze in 8 hours of rest.
Water Is Your Best Friend
As soon as you’ve taken your first sip of wine, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) will rise. While you probably won’t feel much different after a small glass of wine, you’re bound to feel something if that glass becomes several.
When you have a BAC of 0.20, it means 2% of your bloodstream is made up of alcohol. At this point, you’ll have a relaxed, tipsy sensation. You usually don’t want to go over a BAC of 0.25, otherwise, you could be in for a rough night.
One of the best ways to decrease the speed at which alcohol enters your bloodstream is by drinking water. You should drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.
In addition, if you’ve ever noticed yourself going to the toilet frequently when you’ve had a drink, it’s because alcohol is a diuretic. This prompts your kidneys to expel more than you’ve drunk, which can lead to dehydration.
Not only will drinking water help lower your BAC, but it also helps keep dehydration at bay so you can enjoy more wine for longer.
Dine Before Wine
You’ve probably been told countless times before to eat before you drink, but the type of food you coat your stomach with is equally important. The majority of people go for greasy, carby foods, but that might not be the best choice.
Erin Morse, a chief clinical dietitian at UCLA Health recommends fruits and vegetables with a high water content for curbing off sleepiness and ill effects from drinking alcohol.
So, eat fruits and veggies like cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, and radishes to your heart’s content.
Salmon, hummus, avocado, cereals, eggs, and opting for a sandwich with whole-grain bread can also make good options. Fish in particular is beneficial before a night of wine drinking as it contains a lot of vitamin B-12, which alcohol depletes.
Ideally, steer clear of sugary foods as they are digested quickly, making them less effective at reducing the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol.
Think About the Type of Wine You Drink
A study in 2001 suggests that sparkling wine makes you drunker quicker than non-bubbly wine.
Fran Ridout and a team in the human psychopharmacology unit at the University of Surrey set up a couple of drinking sessions for volunteers in their department.
Unbeknown to the participants, these sessions were used as an experiment to compare the effects of carbonated wine against non-carbonated wine.
Ridout handed out champagne to 12 volunteers. Half of them drank fizzy champagne and the other half drank flat champagne that’d had its bubbles eradicated with a whisk.
The next week, Ridout repeated the test but gave each participant the opposite type of champagne they’d had the last time around.
Each session, every person drank two glasses of champagne. Ridout tweaked the specific intakes to make sure everyone consumed the same amount of alcohol per kilogram of body weight.
She found that alcohol levels increased drastically for the participants who’d drunk the carbonated champagne. They had an average of 0.54 milligrams of alcohol per millimeter of blood after as little as five minutes.
In contrast, the volunteers who’d been drinking the flat champagne had an average of 0.39 milligrams of alcohol per millimeter of blood.
It might not seem like a huge difference, but Ridout confirmed that the bubbly champagne drinkers were in a much worse state, with some individuals unable to write.
So, if you haven’t got the highest tolerance to alcohol and want to try and combat wine-induced sleepiness, you might want to opt for non-bubbly wine as opposed to its carbonated counterpart.
None of us are strangers to the sleepiness that comes with drinking wine, normally after you’ve enjoyed a few too many glasses. And now we know the cause of our wine-related naps.
Remember to drink responsibly when you’re drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage. While feeling tired after drinking wine isn’t all in your head, the wine itself may go straight to your head!