Why Does Wine Make Me Sleepy? Alcohol’s Affect On SLEEP

Do you ever drink a glass of wine and feel sleepy afterward? You’re not alone! Many people experience this affect from wine. The question is why? 

Wine is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from grapes, and it has been enjoyed by people all over the world for centuries.

Part of the appeal comes from its complex flavor profile and aroma, but part of that appeal also comes from the effect of alcohol.

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down the brain. This is why sleepiness can result from drinking wine.

But wine has something else that you may not be aware which also contributes to sleepiness: melatonin.

Why Does Wine Make Me Sleepy?

why does wine make me sleepy?
When you drink a glass of wine, alcohol and melatonin work together to make you sleepy.

When you want to know why does wine make me sleepy, it is important to understand how alcohol and melatonin affect the brain.

Our brains are complex and science can only understand so much of how they work, and how chemicals interact with the brain.

But because of the prevalence of alcoholism, scientists have spent a lot of time studying how alcohol affects the brain.

Contrary to what some may believe, alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant.

You may think that alcohol acts as a stimulant for a while, then turns into a depressant. This is not the case.

The reason why you think that is because alcohol depresses the cerebral cortex and, among other things, your inhibition.

The result is that you say and do things you wouldn’t normally do.

It may feel like you are stimulated, but the mechanism the the feel comes about because the part of your brain that is your better judgement has been suppressed or depressed.

Here is some of what they have found out.

Read our related article, Why Does a Cigar Make You Dizzy? Cigars can have similar affects to alcohol. Learn more!

why alcohol in wine makes you sleepy

Alcohol is somewhat unique in the world of mind altering substances because it affects many different parts of the brain rather that focusing intensely on one part or function.

The parts of the brain affected by alcohol are the:

  • central nervous system (CNS)
  • cerebral cortex
  • cerebellum
  • hipocampus
  • frontal lobes
  • medula
  • hypothalamus

While it is important to understand the broad affect that alcohol has on the brain and the critical functions that it depresses, especial if you drink too much, for our purposes we will focus on the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is a very small part of the brain that controls a lot of functions that we take for granted, like your heart beat or the next breath that you’re going to take without thinking about it.

The hypothalamus also controls sleep. It does this because your eyes send information about light to thousands of cells in in what is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

Don’t worry, we won’t test you on this.

The important thing to remember is that when you drink wine, the alcohol it contains depresses, among other things, your hypothalamus which is what causes you to be sleepy.

why melatonin makes you sleepy

Wine Make Me Sleepy
Wine has melatonin, but it wears off more quickly than alcohol.

Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that is part of what drives the sleep cycle.

The reason why people may take it as a supplement to help them sleep is because they don’t produce enough of it, or maybe they need more to overcome that common stimulant caffeine.

Whatever the case, melatonin is believed to be an antioxidant and occurs naturally in grapes.

So the reason why people want to have a glass of wine to settle down after a long day at work is because of alcohol and melatonin.

do some wines make you sleepier than others?

In general, it is possible that certain wines can make you sleepier than others. Here are a couple of reasons why.

alcohol content

Wines have a general range of alcohol content, but within that range, some wines have more alcohol than others.

As you consume wine that has a higher alcohol content the extent to which that amount of alcohol depresses your brain function increases.

So, the higher alcohol content that your glass of wine has, the more likely it is to make you feel sleepy.

Read More: How to Remove Alcohol From Wine. Can you remove alcohol from wine bottles and what are the benefits (if any)? Discover all you need to know in this guide!

melatonin content

Believe it or not, melatonin content can also increase or decrease in any given glass of wine.

But this variance does not correspond to alcohol content but whether the wine is white or red.

In general, red wine tends to have more melatonin than white wine. Also, generally speaking, red wine has a higher alcohol content than white wine.

This means that red wine typically will make you sleepier faster.

can I replace sleeping medication with wine

Drinking Wine
The sleep inducing effects of wine only last so long.

While wine can help you fall asleep, replacing your sleeping meds with a couple glasses of cabernet every night is probably a bad idea. Here’s why.

The half-life of alcohol is about 4 to 5 hours.

That is about half the reccommended night’s sleep that you need, which means that in about the middle of your REM sleep, your brain would get confused and start to wake up.

Add to that the fact that the half-life of melatonin is even shorter, about 45 minutes to an hour.

So, don’t try to use wine as a sleep medication. You may go to sleep quickly but the rest of your night may be unrestful.

See our related article on the Benefits of Drinking Wine Before Sleeping to learn the right way – and the wrong way – to drink wine before bed!


So, what’s the answer to, “why does wine make me sleepy?”

In conclusion, wine makes you sleepy because of alcohol and melatonin. That is why it is famous for that wind-down effect at the end of the day.

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