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Deeply dolorous? Extremely elated? Catastrophically confused? It seems like in modern-day, alcohol seems to be the answer to all questions (modern problems require modern solutions?). However, there is a lot of other attributes associated with alcohol, mostly about its side-effects, one of which is the disruption of the sleep-wake cycle, and that’s why we are going to discuss why wine can make you sleepy.

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The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowing in the Skin

It is an established fact that a grape, which is the most common source of wine, has a compound called melatonin in its skin. Melatonin, scientifically speaking of course, is the same hormone found and secreted from our pineal glands, that aid in the sleep-wake cycle. Read up on “Best Grapes for Making Wine” to see the kind of grapes used in wine-making.

Fermentation plays a quintessential role in the amount of melatonin produced, wherein a direct and proportional relation is observed. It is seen that the amount of melatonin increases with the increase in time for settling and fermentation.

It becomes important, however, to measure magnitude (how much melatonin wine produces anyway) and how much is ideally important to regulate our sleep, one may ask. It is statistically observed that sleeping pills too contain melatonin, and that might contain as high as 10,000 times more melatonin than a glass of wine!

Therefore, it is safe to conclude that, albeit, the average glass of wine containing 70-120 nanograms of melatonin is not remotely close to sufficient in terms of sleep attributes, but it is surely capable of inducing a good amount of sluggishness.

Find out how many grapes go into that bottle of wine in “How Many Grapes are Used for One Bottle of Wine?“.

G.A.B.A

Apart from melatonin, there is another important reason for inactivation of wakefulness whilst under the influence of alcohol in general and wine in specific. GABA, or Gamma Amino Butyric Acid, is essentially a chemical messenger, rather. In scientific terms, it is a neurotransmitter.

It is truly marvelous to comprehend that wine does not take more than 20 minutes to enter our bloodstream on consumption. Once it enters the bloodstream, it becomes an elementary task for these molecules to cross a “blood-brain-barrier”, which is basically a border of sorts, that prevents the mixing of blood constituents and brain fluids like CSF (cerebrospinal fluid).

Another important concept hovers around the idea of receptors. Essentially it is like a gatekeeper, wherein it understands the purpose of the entity approaching its gate (in this case, an alcohol molecule), and based on that, it takes further actions as to allow the entity to pass on its own, or let it pass under supervision or binding.

Take a break from learning about GABA and take a look at “How To Make Wine At Home” or “What Wine Should I Drink With Cheese” for pairing options.

GABA- No Drama

In the case of wine, once it crosses the aforementioned “blood-brain-barrier”, it approaches these GABA-A receptors. During regular activities, these receptors tend to bind to GABA, and these allow inward shift or influx of chloride ions inside the neurons. The influx of these chloride ions cause major suppression, or “slowing down” of neuronal fibers, thereby reducing brain activities. Pacifying effect, if you will!

It is seen that wine tends to magnify this effect. Not only does it disallow GABA molecules to bind to its GABA-A receptors by binding to the receptor itself, but also incrementally changes the suppressive activities of the brain. Sedation, sleepiness, relaxation, here it goes again!

This concept is applied, knowingly or unknowingly, by people claiming how wine makes them feel more at ease, how it helps alleviates them from worldly complexities and the pain surrounding existential crisis. It may also cause major incoordination- one cannot remember where the car keys are, let alone the assigned parking spot!

Sleep and Alcohol- The Other Side of The Coin (Or Bottle)

It is unwise to assume that alcohol is only related to sleep. Science has backed claims that show how, after high dosage of alcohol, there is the inactivation of the GABA-A receptors itself, which result in loosely binding, or none at all, of the previously mentioned alcohol molecules, or GABA for that matter.

This is the reason why, sometimes, after major intoxication, we wake up in the middle of the night, or experience nightmares, in rare and extreme cases. It might seem like juxtaposing two uncommon ideas, but statistics prove otherwise.

Another significant observation is the abnormally high production of epinephrine during or after a major alcohol dosage. Epinephrine is the same compound that aids organisms into a “fight or flight” mode, thereby inducing either extreme rage or extreme cowardice. This is the same reason why people get into fights at pubs or form their own clubs (we are not supposed to talk about that, are we?) over the most minuscule of reasons when they are inebriated.

However, this is where wine differs from any other form of alcoholic beverage. Although it may cause depression of our central nervous system resulting in sluggishness and sleep, wine is generally not associated with aggressive behavior of any kind. A true pacifier and a true civil form of suppression! 

As a general rule of thumb, wine makes one sleepy, and now we know why. However, the true complexities of the alcohol-brain relationship are unfathomable and without proper research, it is futile to jump into complex conclusions.

What is not complex, though, are certain important points, such as avoiding improper civil code of conduct when under the influence, and most importantly, to avoid drinking and driving. Dive into sedation, not into the world of unlawful activities!

Thank you for reading! Be sure to also check out other helpful wine tips in “Simple Solution To Remove Sulfites From Wine“, “Unconventional Wedding Wines to Wow Your Guests“, or “How to Recork Wine like a Pro“.

Before you go we wanted to share something exciting with you. Did you know we are sponsored by AmazonFresh! Enjoy unlimited grocery shipping for only $14.99/mo! Try AmazonFresh Free Trial here. –Exclusively for our Wine On My Time community.

Wine on My Time is a resource blog for wine lovers all across the world! We take pride in delivering the best quality wine material for our readers. Check us out on Instagram and  Pinterest for daily wine content!

Bottoms up! We’ll uncork ya later!! 🍷

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