Does red wine make you sleepy?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Does red wine make you sleepy?” and tell you why red wine makes you sleepy and the effects of alcohol on sleep.
We will also discuss whether white wine also makes you sleepy and how you can drink red wine without having sleep problems, with 5 tips for enjoying red wine without disrupting sleep.
Does red wine make you sleepy?
Yes, red wine can make you sleepy. This occurs because red wine is made from the fermentation of ripe grapes for alcohol production. Both grapes and alcohol have chemical effects that improve relaxation and drowsiness, inducing you to sleep (1).
Why does red wine make you sleepy?
Red wine makes you sleepy because it contains alcohol and melatonin. Alcohol is a central nervous depressant, and melatonin, a hormone produced at night that is associated with sleep. Their combined effects make it almost inevitable not to feel sleepy.
When red wine is produced, the very ripe grapes pass through the fermentation process to produce alcohol. The whole grape is used in this process, and different structures contain the main substances that will cause drowsiness.
Ripe grape pulp is abundant in sugars, primarily responsible for fermentation and alcohol production. As a result, red wine has a higher concentration of alcohol than other fermented beverages, such as beer and white wine.
After approximately 20 minutes of consumption, the alcohol can be absorbed from your digestive system and enter your bloodstream.
As soon as it enters the bloodstream, alcohol is transported to the brain, acting as a central nervous system depressant that improves the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) production. GABA sends inhibitory signals to our brain, promoting relaxation and inducing sleep.
Furthermore, grape skins contain melatonin, a hormone also naturally produced by the human brain’s pineal gland. This gland produces melatonin in darkness and acts as a powerful antioxidant that can enhance the structure and quality of our sleep.
When we consume wine, the melatonin present in grape skins combines with the melatonin produced by our brain, resulting in an even more significant improvement in the quality of our sleep.
Grape seeds are rich in tryptophan, a molecule precursor to melatonin synthesis. In this way, they provide a substrate for us to increase melatonin production by the pineal gland, optimizing its functions and promoting better sleep quality.
So, alcohol and melatonin together make you feel sleepy. However, even if you feel sleepy, some alcohol effects can disrupt your sleep cycle and negatively impact your night of sleep (1–3).
What are the effects of alcohol on sleep?
The effects of alcohol on sleep are mainly the promotion of relaxation and drowsiness. As previously mentioned, alcohol can increase the secretion of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that can promote relaxation and induce sleepiness.
However, alcohol also stimulates the secretion of epinephrine, a stress hormone that typically increases heart rate and can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Alcohol is one of those ingredients that acts as a diuretic. As the body processes alcohol, it stimulates the production of extra urine to help remove the alcohol and its byproducts from the body quickly. As a result, alcohol consumption can also cause you to feel the need to urinate frequently throughout the night, disrupting your sleep cycle.
It’s essential to keep in mind that while alcohol may make you feel drowsy, it can ultimately impact the quality of your sleep, leaving you feeling exhausted the next day.
It’s worth noting that the effects of alcohol can vary from person to person, as everyone metabolizes it differently. In addition, factors such as body weight, genetic variations, amount of consumption, and food intake can all influence the rate at which your liver metabolizes alcohol (2,4,5).
Does white wine also make you sleepy?
White wine can make you sleepy, but it does not make you sleepy like red wine. The drowsy effect is mainly because of the alcohol.
When making white wine, the skins are removed; they are not as intact as red wine. So white wine does not have enough melatonin, just the tryptophan by the seeds.
The grapes used to make white wine are also picked earlier and are not as ripe as red wine grapes, so the alcohol content from the fermentation of white wine is also lower than that of red wine.
So, while white wine may still induce drowsiness, it may not have the same level of effect as red wine (3,6).
How can I drink red wine without having sleep problems? 5 tips for enjoying red wine without disrupting sleep.
You can drink red wine without having sleep problems by following these 5 helpful tips:
- It’s best to stop drinking red wine at least 4 hours before going to bed. This behavior will help you to have enough time for your body to deal with the alcohol in the red wine.
- Choose low-alcohol wines such as white or red wines with a lower alcohol content to reduce the impact on your body and sleep quality. Also, avoid sweet wines because they contain more sugar, which can disrupt your sleep and cause you to wake up groggy.
- To help prevent dehydration and reduce the effects of alcohol, try drinking a glass of water for every glass of wine you consume.
- Enjoy your wine with a meal to help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream.
- To avoid overindulging and experiencing adverse effects, it’s recommended to limit yourself to no more than one or two glasses of wine per sitting (2–4).
In this brief guide, we answered the question, “Does red wine make you sleepy?” and told you why red wine makes you sleepy and the effects of alcohol on sleep.
We also discussed whether white wine also makes you sleepy and how you can drink red wine without having sleep problems, with 5 tips for enjoying red wine without disrupting sleep.
1. Fracassetti D, Vigentini I, Lo Faro AFF, De Nisi P, Foschino R, Tirelli A, et al. Assessment of Tryptophan, Tryptophan Ethylester, and Melatonin Derivatives in Red Wine by SPE-HPLC-FL and SPE-HPLC-MS Methods. Foods Basel Switz. 2019 Mar 14;8(3):99.
2. Zheng D, Yuan X, Ma C, Liu Y, VanEvery H, Sun Y, et al. Alcohol consumption and sleep quality: a community-based study. Public Health Nutr. 2021 Oct;24(15):4851–8.
3. Marhuenda J, Villaño D, Arcusa R, Zafrilla P. Melatonin in Wine and Beer: Beneficial Effects. Mol Basel Switz. 2021 Jan 11;26(2):343.
4. Alcohol and Sleep. Sleep Foundation. 2020.
5. Zilkens RR, Burke V, Hodgson JM, Barden A, Beilin LJ, Puddey IB. Red wine and beer elevate blood pressure in normotensive men. Hypertens Dallas Tex 1979. 2005 May;45(5):874–9.
6. Grao-Cruces E, Calvo JR, Maldonado-Aibar MD, Millan-Linares MDC, Montserrat-de la Paz S. Mediterranean Diet and Melatonin: A Systematic Review. Antioxid Basel Switz. 2023 Jan 24;12(2):264.