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Sad News: Booze Doesn't Help You Sleep Better

Sad News: Booze Doesn't Help You Sleep Better



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Damn you, science. You had to go ruin that for us, too

For those of us who accidentally stain our bed sheets with spilled red wine, here's a study that ruins our habit of a glass of red before bed.

Researchers at The London Sleep Centre found that while alcohol does help people fall asleep, it doesn't help them stay asleep. The review looked at 20 previous studies, examining 500 subjects who drank various levels of alcohol before bed.

Even though everyone fell asleep easily with the help of alcohol, regardless of the amount of alcohol, researchers found that people who drank tended to have their sleep disturbed. They woke after falling asleep, and deep REM sleep was reduced in subjects who had more than two drinks (although two drinks is sort of weak).

"Alcohol on the whole is not useful for improving a whole night's sleep," Irshaad Ebrahim, who helped conduct the review, told Live Science. "Sleep may be deeper to start with, but then becomes disrupted." So what, booze doesn't actually help people sleep, and the "breaking the seal" thing is actually true? Give us a break, science.


How to Get Better Sleep as a Bartender

For bartenders, working long shifts, often at night, in high-stress environments can wreak havoc on your sleep. As Megan Barnes, the beverage director and partner at Espita Mezcaleria in Washington, D.C, says, “After churning out a million drinks and dealing with guests all night, your body is buzzing and your mind is going miles a minute. It’s really hard to go to sleep at the end of the night.”

While it’s tempting to try and wind down with a drink or two or simply zone out with Netflix post-shift, Barnes and other pros have some advice: don’t. Instead, try these strategies for getting better and more restful sleep.


What is insomnia?

According to the National Institutes of Health, when you have insomnia, you may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or getting good sleep. Short-term insomnia can be caused by stress or changes in routine and can last for a few days or weeks. Chronic insomnia happens over a longer period of time — three or more nights per week and lasts more than three months — and can't be explained by a medical condition.


2. Skip the nightcap

&ldquoWhat we see in the literature is that people often consume alcohol before bedtime,&rdquo Robbins says. Unfortunately, that nightly glass of wine (or two) you sip to unwind after a long day isn&rsquot doing you any favors in the sleep department.

&ldquoIt may help you fall it asleep, but it ruins the quality of your sleep,&rdquo explains Robbins. Instead, try sipping a caffeine-free herbal tea &mdash like lavender or chamomile &mdash to get your body and brain in the mood to snooze.


How to Get the Most Out of Pink Noise

Pink noise may help you nod off faster and enjoy a longer, deeper sleep. But it won’t work well if you have poor sleep habits.

To get the most out of pink noise, make these habits part of your nightly routine:

  • Get on a schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning, even on weekends.
  • Work out during the day. Daytime exercise helps you fall asleep faster at night.
  • Go dark. Create a sleep-friendly bedroom that’s quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid sleep interrupters. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and big meals before you go to bed.

Sources

National Sleep Foundation: “Sleep and Sound,” “Sleep Trends: Pink Is the New White (Noise).”

University of Washington Medicine: “What Is Pink Noise?"

Cleveland Clinic: “Why ‘Pink Noise’ Might Just Help You Get a Better Night’s Sleep.”

Northwestern Medicine: “The Promise of Pink Noise.”

Journal of Theoretical Biology: “Pink noise: effect on complexity synchronization of brain activity and sleep consolidation.”

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: “Acoustic Enhancement of Sleep Slow Oscillations and Concomitant Memory Improvement in Older Adults.”


Is Night Shift really helping you sleep better?

Night Shift may make your screen darker, but Night Shift alone will not help you fall or stay asleep. Credit: BYU Photo

How often have you laid in bed scrolling through news stories, social media or responding to a text? After staring at the screen, have you ever found that it is harder to fall asleep?

It's widely believed that the emitted blue light from phones disrupts melatonin secretion and sleep cycles. To reduce this blue light emission and the strain on eyes, Apple introduced an iOS feature called Night Shift in 2016 a feature that adjusts the screen's colors to warmer hues after sunset. Android phones soon followed with a similar option, and now most smartphones have some sort of night mode function that claims to help users sleep better.

Until recently, claims of better sleep due to Night Shift have been theoretical. However, a new study from BYU published in Sleep Health challenges the premise made by phone manufacturers and found that the Night Shift functionality does not actually improve sleep.

To test the theory, BYU psychology professor Chad Jensen and researchers from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center compared the sleep outcomes of individuals in three categories: those who used their phone at night with the Night Shift function turned on, those who used their phone at night without Night Shift and those who did not use a smartphone before bed at all.

"In the whole sample, there were no differences across the three groups," Jensen said. "Night Shift is not superior to using your phone without Night Shift or even using no phone at all."

The study included 167 emerging adults ages 18 to 24 who use cell phones daily. They were asked to spend at least eight hours in bed and wore an accelerometer on their wrist to record their sleep activity. Individuals who were assigned to use their smartphone also had an app installed to monitor their phone use.

The measured sleep outcomes included total sleep duration, sleep quality, wake after sleep onset and the time it took to fall asleep.

A new study challenges the premise made by phone manufacturers and found that the Night Shift functionality does not actually improve sleep. Credit: BYU Photo

After not finding significant differences in sleep outcomes across the three categories, the researchers split the sample into two separate groups: one which averaged about seven hours of sleep and another that slept less than six hours each night.

The group that got seven hours of sleep, which is closer to the recommended eight to nine hours a night, saw a slight difference in sleep quality based on phone usage. The individuals who did not use a phone before bed experienced superior sleep quality relative to both those with normal phone use and those using Night Shift.

Within the six-hour group, which had the least amount of sleep, there were no differences in sleep outcomes based on whether the participants used Night Shift or not.

"This suggests that when you are super tired you fall asleep no matter what you did just before bed," explained Jensen. "The sleep pressure is so high there is really no effect of what happens before bedtime."

The results suggest that it is not blue light alone that creates difficulty falling or staying asleep. The psychological engagement experienced when texting, scrolling and posting are also important factors that affect sleep outcomes.

"While there is a lot of evidence suggesting that blue light increases alertness and makes it more difficult to fall asleep, it is important to think about what portion of that stimulation is light emission versus other cognitive and psychological stimulations," said Jensen.

Night Shift may make your screen darker, but Night Shift alone will not help you fall or stay asleep.


Awake at 3 AM? This Sleepy Dust Recipe Can Help You Catch some Zzzzz

It’s the middle of the night and you just woke up for no reason. An hour has passed and you are still awake. You are suffering from a case of insomnia. Want an insomnia cure that can actually work? Taking a small dose of this homemade sleepy dust recipe made with special sugars and salt just might bring on some much-needed ZZZZ.

Sugar and salt! Kind of goes against everything you have ever been told right? Keep reading why this mixture actually works!

My Struggle with Insomnia

And forward I go with my ongoing battle with sleep deprivation! Well in truth my sleep cycle has been not so bad lately. That is for what I call my normal sleep cycle. Two weeks ago I actually slept about 5 hours straight every night for 7 nights. I honestly do not remember the last time that happened. For me, that is a Godsend. And in the last few months, I have been sleeping close to 4 hours at a time.

I can hear you say OMG I would be a zombie with such little sleep. Well, I have spent years waking up every 90 to 120 min. Trust me that is not a restorative sleep pattern at all. Sleeping for 4 hours straight has made a huge impact on my health because, for me, that is way more restorative.

Waking up around 3 or 4 AM?

But these 4 hours blocks have sort of brought on a new set of problems though. If I wake up at 4 am it is a little late to take prescribed medication, especially on a weekday when the alarm clock will ring. What to do to get back to sleep but only for 2 or 3 hours more?

That is when my research crossed paths with this sleepy dust recipe. I had a really good laugh after first reading about it and sleepy dust reviews. But I was desperate and gave this sleepy dust for insomnia recipe a shot.

What is Sleepy Dust: Choosing the Right Salt and Sugars

The most important part of this recipe is TO USE UNPROCESSED SUGARS. No white sugar here. At first, I only had the cane sugar and it worked well. It took a while to get a hold of Sucanat, or pure dried sugar cane juice (if in Canada I found it here).

You want raw ingredients with their vitamins and minerals intact which will nourish the cells in the body. Same for the salt. I used this time a natural sea salt but I will be getting an unrefined sea salt soon.

So does sleepy dust work?

It is not a bulletproof cure for insomnia – if there was such a thing the word “insomnia” would be stripped of the dictionary – but I can definitely say I have seen an improvement: my mind is calmer and my body a bit more relaxed after the sugars and salts have dissolved from under my tongue. So yes, it works!

How on earth can this recipe work? Let’s look at the science behind it.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

How does sleepy dust work?

If your 24 hour body clock – called circadian rhythms – is a bit out of whack, you may have certain hormone levels peaking at the wrong time. Often in the case of “middle of the night insomnia,” it is the stress hormones that can peak at night instead of in the daytime. The body wakes up at this metabolic stress response.

To calm the body back down, you need to recharge your metabolic system. The glucose, along with those precious minerals, acts like a dose of fuel for your mitochondria which powers the cell’s metabolic activities. The sodium helps the cells breathe and transport this new metabolic fuel throughout the body. The stress hormones calm back down and sleep can come much more easily now.

Don’t believe me? I challenge you to give this sleep dust recipe a try as part of your regiment to cure insomnia naturally!


Why You Should Limit Alcohol Before Bed for Better Sleep

Sure, that nightcap, last glass of wine or beer before bed may help you feel sleepy. But it can actually end up robbing you of a good night’s rest — or worse, could cause some challenging sleep problems.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

”While it’s true that alcohol is a sedative, both having it in your system as well as the process of it wearing off can cause a variety of different problems,” says neurologist and sleep expert Jessica Vensel Rundo, MD. “You’re likely to experience fragmented sleep, insomnia or possibly more serious sleep issues.

What alcohol actually does to your sleep cycles

Each night, your sleep has stages or cycles. Your deep restful sleep tends to be more prevalent in the first few hours but decreases during the second half. Then REM (your dreaming sleep) follows as the night goes on.

If you have alcohol in your system when you hit the hay, you may not sleep very deeply, or for very long, on and off throughout the night. That’s because as alcohol starts to metabolize, the sedative effect wears off.

“This prevents you from getting the deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep you need because the alcohol in your system keeps you in lighter stages of sleep,“ Dr Vensel Rundo says. “You’ll likely wake up easily and more often, especially in the later half of the night.”

Other sleep problems alcohol causes

Besides just waking you up a lot, alcohol can disrupt your normal sleep patterns enough to create some longer-term issues you may need to address.

Vivid dreams and nightmares — With alcohol in your system you’re more likely to have intense, colorful dreams and nightmares as you sleep patterns ebb and flow. You may or may not remember them, but they can be lucid or give you a feeling that you are half awake and half asleep. Because at some point, you might actually be.

Sleepwalking and parasomnias — You may experience moving a lot or talking while you’re sleeping. There’s a chance you’ll physically act out your dreams in your sleep, or even sleepwalk.

You may also experience parasomnias which are disruptive sleep disorders that occur in specific stages of sleep or in sleep-wake transitions. These can happen during arousals from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

Breathing problems — Since alcohol’s sedative effect extends to your entire body, including your muscles, it may allow your airway to close more easily while you’re asleep. This can greatly increase the risk of sleep apnea especially if you drink within the last couple of hours before bedtime.

The day after and long-term effects of alcohol

“Like many other drugs, if you drink alcohol before bedtime, you can expect to wake up with some degree of grogginess,” Dr. Vensel Rundo says. ‘Your body will need to compensate for the lack of good sleep you didn’t get and your alertness may be impaired.”

With extended use of alcohol over time, there can be long-term concerns, too. Many who abuse alcohol often do it well into the night and oversleep into the next day. In time this may lead to switching up day and night sleeping patterns. Then, as withdrawal from the drug or alcohol occurs there’s a big sleep-wake reversal which then needs to be addressed.

“Existing research also shows alcohol decreases your melatonin levels, the hormone that regulates your internal clock,” she says. “If you become dependent on drugs or alcohol, over time you could get your days and nights mixed up.”

What you can do if your sleep is impacted

Simply cutting back or giving up alcohol or other drugs can be enough to reverse the negative impacts on your sleep (and can greatly improve your health overall).

“But if you have continued sleep issues that don’t go away,” Dr. Vensel Rundo suggests, “it’s a really good idea to have a conversation with a sleep specialist.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


The truth about alcohol and sleep

I don’t drink a lot. It’s not because I don’t appreciate a glass of wine with a great meal, or a few beers on a hot summer evening. It’s because I know what alcohol can do to sleep and healthy circadian rhythms.

Alcohol is the most common sleep aid—at least 20 percent of American adults rely on it for help falling asleep. But the truth is, drinking regularly—even moderate drinking—is much more likely to interfere with your sleep than to assist it.

Does this mean you need to abstain from drinking altogether? Nope. But part of a smart, sleep-friendly lifestyle is managing alcohol consumption so it doesn’t disrupt your sleep and circadian rhythms.

How alcohol affects circadian rhythms—and why it matters to your health
First, a quick refresher on the importance of the body’s circadian rhythms. These 24-hour rhythms are governed by a master biological clock, a tiny region of the brain with a big job: to coordinate circadian rhythm activity throughout the body.

Circadian rhythms regulate nearly all of the body’s processes, from metabolism and immunity to energy, sleep, and sexual drive, cognitive functions and mood.

In the body, alcohol disrupts circadian functioning, directly interfering with the ability of the master biological clock to synchronize itself. Because circadian rhythms have such a powerful, dominating influence over the way our bodies function, the disruptive effects of alcohol can be widespread, affecting sleep and other systems, including:

Poor liver function. The liver acts as a filtering system for the body, helping metabolize food and chemicals (including alcohol itself), and pulling toxins from the bloodstream. Like nearly all of the body’s organs, the liver functions according to circadian rhythms. Alcohol interferes with these circadian rhythms regulating the liver, and can contribute to compromised liver function, liver toxicity and disease.

Leaky gut. The gut and its microbiome are often referred to as the body’s second brain, and operate under powerful circadian rhythm activity. The circadian disruption that can result from alcohol consumption contributes to leaky gut syndrome, according to research. Circadian rhythms thrown out of sync can weaken the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, making it more vulnerable to permeation—that’s the leakiness that allows bacteria, toxins, and food to leave the intestines and enter the bloodstream.

Depression. There’s a complicated relationship among depression, alcohol and sleep. People suffering from depression may already have disrupted circadian rhythms, and the presence of even moderate amounts of alcohol may push those rhythms further out of sync.

Disrupted sleep-wake cycles. Alcohol is highly effective at suppressing melatonin, a key facilitator of sleep and regulator of sleep-wake cycles. Research indicates that a moderate dose of alcohol up to an hour before bedtime can reduce melatonin production by nearly 20 percent. Alcohol has a direct effect on circadian rhythms, diminishing the ability of the master biological clock to respond to the light cues that keep it in sync. Those effects of alcohol on the biological clock appear to persist even without additional drinking, according to research.

There’s also evidence alcohol interferes with the body’s other sleep-wake regulator: its internal sleep drive. Alcohol elevates levels of adenosine, a chemical that regulates sleep by rising naturally in the body the longer you’ve been awake, and increasingly blocking other chemicals that stimulate wakefulness. Alcohol’s adenosine-boosting effects make you sleep at times other than you would be naturally, and can throw your natural sleep-wake cycle off course.

Circadian rhythms affect how the body responds to alcohol, depending on the timing of alcohol intake. Long-established research shows the body metabolizes alcohol differently at different times of day. Studies have shown the body is more effective at processing alcohol at certain times of the day than others.

The most effective time of day for the body to metabolize alcohol, according to research? Early to middle evening hours. That’s right, the traditional “happy hour” time is actually when the body is most prepared to process that cocktail. The time of day when the body is least well prepared? Morning. If that mimosa with brunch hits you particularly hard, it may be the result of circadian timing.

How alcohol affects sleep
Before we look at the effects of alcohol on sleep in detail, here’s the basic bottom line. The more you drink, and the closer your drinking is to bedtime, the more it will negatively impact your sleep. Even moderate amounts of alcohol in your system at bedtime alters sleep architecture—the natural flow of sleep through different stages. It also leads to lighter, more restless sleep as the night wears on, diminished sleep quality, and next-day fatigue.

What does drinking alcohol do to a night of sleep?
It’s true, sleep may happen more quickly after consuming a drink or two. Alcohol often does reduce sleep onset latency—the time it takes to fall asleep. Depending on how much alcohol is consumed, however, what seems like falling asleep may be something closer to passing out. And we quickly build a tolerance for the sedative effects of alcohol, which means you may need to drink more to have the same initial sleep-inducing effects.

For many people who drink moderately, falling asleep more quickly may seem like an advantage of a nightly glass of wine. But alcohol goes on to affect the entire night of sleep to come.

In the first half of the night, when the body is metabolizing alcohol, studies show people spend more time in deep, slow-wave sleep and less time in REM sleep. It may sound like a good idea to spend more time in deep sleep. Not so fast. Sleep architecture is biologically driven and finely calibrated to meet the body’s needs during nightly rest—changes to the natural, typical structure of sleep aren’t generally good for health or well being. REM sleep, which gets shortchanged in the first half of the night under the influence of alcohol, is important for mental restoration, including memory and emotional processing.

During the second half of the night, sleep becomes more actively disrupted. As alcohol is metabolized and any of its sedative effects dissipate, the body undergoes what scientists call a “rebound effect.” This includes a move from deeper to lighter sleep, with more frequent awakenings during the second half of the night. (These may be micro-awakenings that the sleeper doesn’t even remember—but they still interrupt the flow, and quality, of sleep.) During the second half of the night, sleep architecture shifts again away from normal, with less time spent in slow wave sleep. The rebound effect may include more time in REM—a lighter sleep stage from which it is easy to be awakened.

People who go to bed with alcohol in their system may be more likely to wake early in the morning and not be able to fall back to sleep, another consequence of the rebound effect.

Other sleep disruptions associated with alcohol consumptions include:

• More frequent need to get up and go to the bathroom, especially during the second half of the night
• Increased risk for parasomnias including sleep walking and sleep eating
• Greater risk for snoring and sleep-disordered breathing. Alcohol can lead to excessive relaxation of the muscles in the head, neck and throat, which may interfere with normal breathing during sleep.
• Alcohol consumption can trigger new sleep disorders or exacerbate existing ones, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea

Sleep and circadian rhythm disruption from alcohol also contribute to next-day tiredness, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Even if it doesn’t present as a full-fledged hangover, alcohol-related sleep loss negatively affects mood and performance.

There’s also a gender factor in the effects of alcohol on sleep: Women appear to experience the sleep-disrupting impact of alcohol more significantly than men do, according to research.

How much alcohol is too much for sleep?
Heavy drinking can make the sleep- and circadian rhythm-disrupting effects of alcohol worse. But even a regular, moderate routine of two to three drinks a day is enough to create sleep and performance problems for many people.

I recommend to my patients drinking 2-3 times a week. That recommendation is the same for both men and women. This provides enough room to enjoy an after-work cocktail with friends, indulge in a glass of wine at your favorite restaurant, and crack open a beer after a weekend’s worth of chores around the house—all without interfering with healthy sleep and circadian rhythms.

Does this routine mean opting for something different at times when you might otherwise have alcohol? For many people, the answer is yes. But as so many of my patients tell me, it’s worth it: for the improvements to the quality of their sleep, their increased energy during the day, and the boost many of them experience in mental sharpness and clarity. Cheers to that.


What I've learned

1. You don't have to drink to have fun.

What a shocker! As someone who's been drinking since senior year of high school (sorry, Mom, we weren't just "hanging out" in the basement), most events in my life revolved around booze.

Almost everything does: Comedy shows, concerts, after-work functions, meetups, dates, conferences, dinner, museum tours. But guess what? The events don't change if you decide not to drink!

You're still you. Maybe you're more "inhibited," but is that altogether terrible? I've found that when I hang out with folks who have been drinking, I start to feel the same way I felt — in terms of becoming silly, goofy, fun — when I was drinking too.

And I remember everything that happened during the events, which is always nice.

2. You have way fewer regrets.

Since I stopped drinking, I've yet to wake up and look at my phone, see something I texted, and go, "Ugh, wwwwwwwhhhhhhhy." I'm in control of my actions basically all of the time.

I think longer before I respond to something someone says. If I'm angry, it gives me more time to calm down. Drinking definitely helped my inner jerk come out a lot more often. Now I’m better at keeping the jerkier side of me locked up. It still comes out, sure, but at least I have more control over when that happens.

3. People will judge the heck out of you.

This was the weirdest one to deal with. Many, many folks will give you attitude for not drinking. Here are a few things I've been told:

"C'mon, dude, just have one beer! It's not like you're going to meetings or whatever!"

"I can't trust someone who doesn't drink."

"You're not fun unless you're drunk."

"When you don't drink, it makes me feel bad about myself, which makes me not like you."

"I can't date someone who doesn't want to get drunk with me, sorry."

I'll bet I said some of these things myself, back when I used to drink — because when you're around someone who doesn't do something you like doing, you can be taken aback by it.

I've had friends who've stopped hanging out with me because I don't drink anymore. I've had relationships end (or not even start) because of it. I have been sent screen shots of people I know talking smack about me to other people because I choose to not do a thing.

It's weird. But it makes you realize the bad relationship with booze that other folks must be having. And for that, I have empathy. And I hope they figure it out.

4. You sleep so much better.

I haven't slept this great since before high school. Man, it's fantastic. I could point you to all the studies that show how alcohol affects your sleep, but hey, take my word for it. This is the sleep I’ve dreamed of for years.

5. You get less sad.

I don't know if I have depression, but I used to get bummed out a lot. There were days when I wouldn't want to leave my apartment, or see anyone, mostly because I hated myself.

I don't hate myself nearly as much as I used to. I'm generally OK with my life and who I am. Positivity is now my go-to emotion, even when something bad or terrible happens to me.

It's like I flipped this switch inside my brain: Instead of going to negativity, I try to find the reason something is positive. It's definitely weird to have this happen to me.

6. You develop more empathy for others.

A few weeks ago, this guy blared on his horn because I was crossing at a crosswalk and he wanted to turn, and he almost hit me with his car. Then he flipped me off and said some nasty words at me.

Old me probably would've stood in front of him, not moved, taken a photo or video of him, shared it on the Internet with the caption, "Hey, look at this jerk who tried to hit me with his car!" And I would have felt smug and wonderful about it.

Instead, after an initial moment of fear and anger, I realized this dude was probably having an awful day. Maybe he was late for an appointment. Maybe he was trying to get to the hospital to see his son who has cancer. Maybe he didn't have parents as loving as mine and that's filled him with resentment his entire life.

Either way, that guy had something going on, and I wanted him to be happier. Then I felt weird, because my brain has been wired forever to be a jerk to anyone who wrongs me. But now? I generally jump to empathy. I like that.

7. You save so much money.

I bought a condo. I'd like to pretend as though it wasn't because of how much money I saved by not drinking and buying food while drunk, but probably one-fourth of my down payment came just from abstaining from booze.

8. You get tired earlier.

It's pretty hard for me to stay up past 11 p.m. these days, even on weekends. When I was drinking, booze was a magical fuel that kept me going, trying to find a new adventure.

Now that I don't drink, I'm not constantly searching for adventure, trying to find one more fun thing that will fill the empty void inside of me. I'm content with what I've done for the day, and my body wants to go to bed. I dig that.

9. You become amazingly productive.

When you're not spending most of your free time at bars, you get a lot done. I read more. I write more. I learn more.

I spend more time working on bettering myself and my skills than I ever would have sitting at a bar, chatting with a buddy or two. I'm much less social than I used to be, but I'm also creating more art and failing a lot more than ever before.

In the end, I know I'm going to die. I'd rather there be a few things of me still hanging around after I'm dead, some sort of personal expression that others can enjoy. That requires me to put in the time to work on projects, and make something tangible and real for people to enjoy.

That seems, now, like a better use of my time than chatting with some pals at a bar. That conversation may have been great, sure, but in the end, it dies with me and those people. If I can create a few things that last longer than me, it makes my life last longer. It means I mattered a little more.

I'm glad I haven't been drunk for two years. Sure, I've done a few shots of Malort (a terribly famous Chicago liqueur, it’s disgusting) with people who've never tried it. And yes, there was that one time a dude threatened to fight me if I didn't drink that shot of whiskey he bought to congratulate me on "being so funny" after hearing me tell jokes about how I don't drink anymore.

If you ever think, hey, this drinking thing isn't fun anymore, it's fine to take a break. I just quit. For me, it's been relatively easy, and I know it isn't easy for everyone. But just know I've found countless rad people who can have fun without booze. And you can too.