Q: How long should I wait to fall asleep after drinking a glass of wine?—Sloan, Flagstaff, Ariz.
A: Alcohol and sleep don't go well together. Even though you may be getting the recommended hours of shut-eye, drinking before bed can adversely impact sleep's restorative effects. According to Stanford University sleep specialist Dr. Rafael Pelayo, it's OK to enjoy a glass of wine at night, but it's best to go to sleep sober.
"The advice I give my patients is to give yourself an hour per drink before you get into bed," Dr. Pelayo told Wine Spectator. "This is especially true for people who snore, because alcohol makes your snoring louder and worse."
Because alcohol is a depressant and impedes motor functions, it's not uncommon for an overserved person to lose consciousness, but sleep quality actually decreases with intoxication—people who go to sleep under the influence are prone to waking up frequently and experiencing fragmented sleep. "The whole point of sleeping is that it restores you for the next day," Dr. Pelayo said. "So if you're not getting that restorative effect of sleeping, then what's the point?"
Alcohol should never be used as a sleep aid, and Dr. Pelayo advises against going to bed feeling tipsy or buzzed. Alcohol is also counter-indicated with sleep aids, especially sedatives such as Ambien; consult your physician about any medications you are taking and how wine can be safely incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.