Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Finding About Alcohol And Sleep

Date:
November 5, 2004
Source:
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
New research about how alcohol affects sleep could lead to medications to address a common reason some alcoholics go back to drinking – disturbed sleep when they try to stop. The work was reported today by researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – New research about how alcohol affects sleep could lead to medications to address a common reason some alcoholics go back to drinking – disturbed sleep when they try to stop. The work was reported today by researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.

"There is a strong relationship between alcohol and sleep," said Dwayne Godwin, Ph.D., senior researcher. "Many people have sleep problems when they stop drinking. If we could stabilize sleep, or take it back to a normal rhythm, it would address one of the reasons that alcoholics go back to drinking."

Godwin and colleagues studied the relationship between sleep and alcohol in monkeys. They found that in animals that chronically drank alcohol, the brain attempts to increase a particular protein associated with brain waves that are important to normal sleep. The finding suggests that new medications to target the protein might improve sleep in chronic alcohol users.

"If we can find a way to solve the problem of sleep disturbance, it could possibly affect the outcome of addiction treatment," said Godwin.

Previous research in animals and humans has shown that alcohol initially acts as a sedative in casual drinkers, making it easier to sleep. But in the second half of the night, sleep is often disrupted. In chronic alcohol users, the brain develops a tolerance to the sedative effects of alcohol and there is an increase in light sleep and a decrease in restorative sleep. This may prompt alcohol users to increase their consumption to try to improve sleep. One study revealed that 44 percent to 60 percent of alcohol patients used alcohol to help them sleep.

Godwin said the brain adapts to long-term alcohol use and doesn't immediately return to normal when alcohol use is stopped. It may take months for the brain to revert to normal sleep patterns, or it may never return to a truly normal state. In the meantime, sleep problems can get worse. Insomnia has been shown to occur in 36 percent to 72 percent of alcoholic patients during both active drinking and withdrawal.

"There is a significant relationship between alcoholics returning to consumption because of this sleep issue," said Godwin, an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy. "One reason they may go back to drinking may be an attempt to make their sleep feel more normal or satisfying."

Previous research has shown that alcohol affects spindle waves, which are brain rhythms associated with normal sleep. The primary generators of spindle waves are proteins called calcium channels that are involved with cell communication. These channels may also help to set the phase of sleep.

Chronic alcohol consumption has been shown to disturb the function of calcium channels in the thalamus, a brain region involved in sleep. In the current study, Godwin and colleagues found that animals that self-administered alcohol had a fourfold increase in one of the genes that express the calcium channels, compared to animals that didn't consume alcohol.

"The alcohol suppresses the calcium channels, so the cells in the thalamus may compensate by making more copies of the gene," said Godwin. "However, this overproduction of the gene did not lead to an increase in functional calcium channels and the cells still had disturbances in the channels, so the animals as a group tended to have disrupted sleep."

Godwin and colleagues plan to continue the work to learn how alcohol disrupts the protein. Does it reduce the number of calcium channels? Or does it cause the channels to malfunction? Knowing more about how the channels respond to alcohol could lead to drugs that could target the calcium channels and address sleep problems associated with alcohol.

###

Other researchers involved in the project were Brian K. Nordskog, Ph.D., William B. Carden, Ph.D., Georgia M. Alexander, Brian McCool, Ph.D., James Daunais, Ph.D., David Friedman, Ph.D., and Kathleen Grant, Ph.D., all from Wake Forest Baptist.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "New Finding About Alcohol And Sleep." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041030183411.htm>.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (2004, November 5). New Finding About Alcohol And Sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041030183411.htm
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "New Finding About Alcohol And Sleep." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041030183411.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins