From the affect of alcohol on sleep to sleepwalking cures, a panel of experts discuss common sleep myths with The Guardian.

How does alcohol affect sleep?

Guy Meadows A lot of the symptoms associated with a hangover are a product of sleep deprivation. Alcohol affects our ability to get into what is known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the bulk of which occurs in the last two-thirds of the night. As a rule of thumb, it takes about an hour to metabolise one unit of alcohol, so if you have a 250ml glass of wine at 7pm it will mostly be out of your system by 10.30pm.

Is it bad to eat before bed?

GM It is important to leave at least a couple of hours between eating and sleeping. There is a whole raft of so-called sleepy foods – anything containing tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium, calcium, potassium – often eaten in the hope they will aid sleep. I’m not a fan of this as I come from the chronic insomnia world where people are so desperate to sleep that they are consuming vast quantities of bananas, almonds, turkey, lettuce, warm milk, and so on. I always say do it because it’s a nice ritual, not because you need it to sleep.

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