Louis Pasteur famously said, “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”
Whether he meant that red wine is rich in antioxidants, or that it will rock you to sleep before you have a chance to ruin your reputation, will forever remain a mystery.
Red wine can certainly impact our health and mood in many ways. But… does red wine make you sleepy?
Red Wine vs White Wine
The most obvious difference between red and white wine is that the latter has a much lighter color. White wine is generally more acidic, has fewer tannins, lower alcohol content, and a lower concentration of melatonin.
The characteristics listed above are a result of how white wine is made.
Wine can be made from red or white grapes but when white wine is made, the grape skins are removed before fermentation. This is what determines the wine’s color, flavor, and concentration of melatonin.
Red wine has a rich dark red color, more tannins, higher alcohol content, and higher levels of melatonin. Tannins add complexity to the taste of red wine. The higher concentration of melatonin found in red wine is one of the factors that can make you sleepy. More on this shortly.
Unlike white wines, red wine is fermented with the grape skins and juice combined.
This process is called maceration. During maceration, coloring agents, tannins, and rich flavors get leached from grape skins, seeds, and stems into the must (the freshly crushed juice).
Why Does Red Wine Make You Sleepy?
Like any type of alcohol, red wine is a sedative. Alcoholic beverages depress the central nervous system, making you feel relaxed and drowsy. You know the saying… booze can make you snooze!
Even though many alcoholic beverages make you sleepy, red wine is one of the most powerful “sleep aids” due to its elevated concentration of melatonin.
Our bodies produce melatonin. It’s a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in response to darkness.
Until recently it was thought that only mammals can produce melatonin. But it turns out, that some plants have high levels of melatonin as well! The highest concentrations were found in Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot but many types of grapes contain this hormone.
Melatonin is famous for being the sleep hormone, but it is also a powerful antioxidant and has immunomodulatory and even anticarcinogenic properties.
Does Red Wine Make You More Sleepy Than White Wine?
Why doesn’t white wine have the same effect on your sleeping schedule as a glass of Merlot? It all has to do with how red wine is made.
Red wine is fermented using grapes with skins intact and that is where the highest concentration of melatonin is found.
Tips for Drinking Red Wine Without Falling Asleep
Is there a way to drink red wine without feeling sleepy? Here are a few tips that will allow you to enjoy drinking red wine without nodding off – at least for the first part of the evening:
Savor Your Red Wine
The more glasses of red wine you drink, the sleepier you will become. Take your time and enjoy every sip.
Don’t Drink Wine on an Empty Stomach
Have a snack while you enjoy your glass of red or have some wine with a meal.
You’ll drink your wine at a more leisurely pace and slow down the absorption of alcohol. There are so many foods that go incredibly well with red wine – don’t waste the opportunity to heighten your culinary experience!
Even though some experts claim that your body doesn’t actually get dehydrated when you are drinking alcohol (with the exception of when you’ve decided to hit the dancefloor, of course), a little water can be helpful.
Drinking water will lower the amount of alcohol in your blood, and BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is the thing that directly influences how alcohol affects you. So, water might give you some extra time to enjoy the evening without becoming sleepy.
Don’t Let Others Top Up Your Glass
We all have that one person whose life philosophy states that your glass of wine should always be full.
It is easy to lose track of how many drinks you have actually had if you’re sharing a bottle of wine with friends. Before you know it, you’ve had a few glasses of wine, you’re feeling the combined effects of alcohol and melatonin… and you’re dangerously close to nodding off on the couch!
Enjoying some stimulating conversation with friends over a glass of red wine can be a fantastic experience but, like most things in life, it probably makes sense to do so in moderation.
Just be aware that red wine in particular, has the potential to make you more than a little sleepy as your evening wears on!