Alcohol-induced blackouts less likely in heavy drinkers with insomnia

August 12, 2022

1 min read

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Heavy drinkers with symptoms of insomnia were less likely to experience alcohol-induced blackouts, researchers reported in Addictive Behaviors.

Angelo M. DiBello

“The effects were contrary to expectations, as heavy drinkers with more insomnia symptoms still black out, but the effect was stronger for those with fewer insomnia symptoms,” Angelo M. DiBello, MDstudy co-author and assistant professor at Rutgers University’s Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies, told Healio.

Alcohol bottles and person holding one of them
Source: Adobe Stock.

DiBello and colleagues aimed at test insomnia symptoms as a moderator of the association between heavy drinking and alcohol-induced blackouts by surveying 461 college students (69% women) who reported being heavy drinkers. Students completed online assessments from remote locations, answering questions about their drinking habits, whether they experience alcohol-induced blackouts and whether they have symptoms of insomnia, a related university press release stated.

to researchers, insomnia severity at least marginally moderated the association between heavy drinking and four of five physiological consequences according to alcohol use, while only moderating the association between drinking and one of 19 remaining consequences, which included blackout, passing out, nausea and throwing up , and hangover.

“One potential explanation for this contradictory finding could be that sleep and circadian factors alter reward sensitivity among young adults such that poor sleep health, which includes insufficient sleep duration and misaligned sleep timing, heightens young adults’ sensitivity to the physiological effects of alcohol.” DiBello said.

This is the first study to report these findings, he said, adding that future work should be conducted to “unpack the processes underlying our findings.”

DiBello continued, “While this work represents an important first step in differentiating the effects of heavy drinking and insomnia symptoms as they relate physiological alcohol-related consequences, more work is needed to fully explore their clinical significance.”


Symptoms of insomnia may reduce the likelihood of alcohol-induced blackout. Published Aug. 8, 2022. Accessed Aug. 12, 2022.

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