Does the hops in beer have (a consistent and noticeable) effect on drowsiness?

Whenever I drink a beer, I get so sleepy that I can barely keep my eyes open. Is it the hops? It can't be the just alcohol - wine and vodka don't make me sleepy like beer.

That is, compared to an unhopped beer (rare nowadays), or an equivalent amount of alcohol. I see many sources online saying so, but with no links to actual studies, and I recall reading a while ago (studies found via Google Scholar, I believe) that the purported effects of phytoestrogens in hops were exaggerated, at least in the context of (sexual) potency and developing male breasts (to avoid the colloquial terms).

  • 2
    Welcome to Skeptics! We want to focus our attention on doubtful claims that are widely held or are made by notable people. Please provide some references to places where this claim is being made.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 8, 2015 at 9:22
  • If you compare to an equivalent amount of alcohol, you won't be able to exclude the possibility that any extra sleepiness in the beer group is due to some other beer ingredient, other than hops. Even if you find no significant difference in sleepiness between the beer group and the alcohol control group, it's still possible that hops does cause sleepiness, but some other ingredient in the beer is a stimulant which cancels the effect. I think you really would have to compare to a beer with less hops, or an unhopped malt beverage (which by many definitions would not be beer). Jun 8, 2015 at 14:34

1 Answer 1


One approach could be to test (hopped) alcohol-free beer.

A study looking at this was The Sedative Effect of Non-Alcoholic Beer in Healthy Female Nurses, Franco et al, PLoS One. 2012; 7(7). Among other things, its conclusions were

The moderate consumption of non-alcoholic beer will favour night-time rest, due in particular to its hop components, in addition to its other confirmed benefits for the organism.

Looking at the study, it gave nurses alcohol-free beer when eating supper, and did not give the control group beer when they ate supper. I might have thought it could have been slightly more convincing if they had given the control group an unhopped fake beer, to reduce any mental association between beer drinking and sedation.

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    +1 for the last paragraph rather than the study, which is unconvincing!
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 8, 2015 at 17:30

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