updated 3/29/2004 5:42:28 PM ET 2004-03-29T22:42:28

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Question: Can alcohol cause insomnia? I'm wondering because anytime I drink, regardless of the amount, I usually have trouble sleeping afterward. I'll either be up most of the night or at best drifting in and out of sleep throughout the night. I'm a relatively healthy, college-age male. I'm not really a regular drinker -- usually once or twice a month. Is it normal for alcohol to cause insomnia? I mean, it's a depressant, so one would think it would make sleeping EASIER if anything, but it seems to have the reverse effect on me. Is it something I should be concerned about?

Answer: Although alcohol can make some people sleepier, it often will keep them in the light stages of sleep and once it goes through their metabolism it will certainly make sleep worse. Remember, many people have strange reactions to all kinds of medications which are the reverse of what you might expect. Like Benadryl: Some people it makes tired, and others it makes wired.

Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., ABSM, is board certified in clinical psychology and sleep medicine. He has been involved in sleep research since 1990 and is on the faculty of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine.

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