Effect of alcohol on sleep and nighttime plasma growth hormone and cortisol concentrations

The acute and chronic effects of alcohol and alcohol withdrawal on sleep behavior and plasma GH and cortisol fluctuations occurring during sleep were studied.

Five healthy men aged 21-26 years consumed a placebo drink for 3 nights, alcohol (0.8 g/kg) for 9 nights, and a placebo drink on the last night of withdrawal. Throughout the night, polygraphic sleep recordings and blood samples (taken every 20 minutes with a venous catheter) were obtained for 1 placebo, 1 acute alcohol, 1 chronic alcohol (night 9), and 1 alcohol withdrawal night.

Acute and chronic alcohol consumption did not significantly decrease rapid eye movement sleep in the first half of the night, whereas slow wave sleep (stages 3 and 4) was significantly increased after acute alcohol and returned to baseline values on the night of chronic alcohol withdrawal. On the night of withdrawal, rapid eye movement sleep and slow wave sleep were not significantly different from placebo sleep. Alcohol significantly suppressed plasma GH levels (70-75%) on acute and chronic nights.

All measures of GH, including total integral for sleep time, mean hourly rate, and peak rate, were similarly affected by alcohol. On the withdrawal night, GH values returned to placebo values. Measurements of nocturnal plasma cortisol were not significantly altered by alcohol or alcohol withdrawal at this dose level.


J Clin Endocrinol Metab.: Effect of alcohol on sleep and nighttime plasma growth hormone and cortisol concentrations

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