Chronic and acute consumption of alcohol are associated with alterations in autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity. Acute alcohol consumption leads to an immediate increase in heart rate and blood pressure and a reduction in vagal tone. Chronic heavy drinking in the context of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is also associated with tonically elevated heart rate even when sober. Acute alcohol intoxication and AUD are also associated with dramatically disturbed sleep with common findings including increased wakefulness and likelihood of brief arousals throughout the night in AUD and in the second half of the night following drinking prior to sleep. Sleep should be a cardio-protective state with lower heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) than wakefulness. Sleep disturbance is a known risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) with sleep deprivation and common sleep disorders being associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Indeed it has been argued that sleep disturbance may be the most important, potentially modifiable, cardiovascular risk factor. NIAAA has established guidelines that indicate that up to four drinks per day (maximum of fourteen drinks per week) for men and three drinks per day (maximum of seven drinks per week) for women are considered as low risk, yet little is known of the impact of this level of drinking on sleep and ANS function. This exploratory/developmental grant proposal will evaluate sleep, sleep EEG and state of the art measures of ANS and CV function during sleep under sober, and recommended safe drinking conditions.

Public Health Relevance

Both the sleep and cardiovascular (CV) systems are disrupted by acute alcohol consumption, and both sleep disturbance and heavy drinking are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. However, little is known about the effects on sleep, and CV activity when drinking to the level recommended by NIAAA as low risk. This proposal uses state of the art sleep EEG and autonomic nervous system assessment to determine the level of disruption induced by different levels of pre-sleep acute alcohol consumption.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Initial Review Group (AA)
Program Officer
Regunathan, Soundar
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Sri International
Menlo Park
United States
Zip Code
de Zambotti, Massimiliano; Trinder, John; Silvani, Alessandro et al. (2018) Dynamic coupling between the central and autonomic nervous systems during sleep: A review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 90:84-103
Forouzanfar, Mohamad; Baker, Fiona C; de Zambotti, Massimiliano et al. (2018) Toward a better noninvasive assessment of preejection period: A novel automatic algorithm for B-point detection and correction on thoracic impedance cardiogram. Psychophysiology 55:e13072