Insomniacs remember more from the boozy night before, study finds

Insomniacs remember more from a boozy night than heavy sleepers, study finds

  • Historically studies have suggest insomniacs are at increased risk of ‘blackouts’
  • But study at University of Missouri School of Medicine found the opposite
  • Out of 450 respondents, those without condition were more prone to memory loss

That dreaded feeling of forgetfulness the morning after you’ve had one too many will be familiar to many Britons.

But according to surprising new research, those who sleep soundly are far less likely to remember their drunken antics, compared to troubled sleepers.

Researchers at University of Missouri School of Medicine in the US had set out to study the impact of heavy alcohol consumption on insomniacs – people who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Historically, studies have suggested that the condition worsens the effects of booze and increases the risk of a blackout – a term used to described alcohol-induced memory loss.

Professor Angelo DiBello, at Rutgers Center of Alcohol and Substance Use, and an investigator on the study, says: ‘Because insomnia has been shown to impair memory and cognitive functioning, we thought that participants in our study with severe insomnia and high alcohol intake would also have the highest rates of blackout frequency.’

However, the results, which were published earlier this month, showed completely the opposite effect.

Historically, studies have suggested that insomnia worsens the effects of booze and increases the risk of a blackout – a term used to described alcohol-induced memory loss (stock image)

Dyspepsia and dysphagia are both related to eating.

Dyspepsia is the medical term for indigestion. Sufferers experience pain and discomfort in the food pipe and stomach, usually after eating. Often, this is because acids in the stomach and food juices have travelled back up the food pipe towards the throat, causing a burning sensation. Other symptoms include bloating, belching and nausea. Mostly, it results from eating a large meal and does not need treatment.

Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing. Some sufferers feel a general tightening in their throat; others find they cough or choke while eating. There are many causes, including conditions affecting the muscles, allergies, a stroke and, in rare cases, mouth, throat or oesophageal cancer.


More than 460 college students were enlisted, all of whom had reported heavy drinking – defined as five or more drinks on a single occasion – in the previous 30 days.

About a third also suffered from symptoms of insomnia.

Researchers discovered that as alcohol use increased among study participants without insomnia, blackout frequency increased more than in those who reported having the sleep condition.

Scientists are still unsure why this occurred but plan to run further studies to explore the link.

‘We’re not saying that the consequences of heavy drinking are absent for those with severe insomnia,’ says Prof DiBello.

‘This is not a licence to drink heavily if you have trouble sleeping. 

‘What we are saying, however, is the effect is stronger for those who are low in insomnia.’

Alcohol-related blackouts occur when a person drinks enough alcohol to temporarily block the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage – known as memory consolidation – in a brain area called the hippocampus.

The exact amount of alcohol needed to cause this varies between individuals.

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