Does Alcohol Affect Sleep Apnea?
It is not uncommon for adults to enjoy a glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail with dinner. Many families grew up with the cultural expectation of drinking alcohol during family meals. Wineries, breweries, and distilleries have become quite popular hangouts over the past few years. One of the reasons alcohol is popular is due to its relaxing properties. Those same properties are the reason that alcohol can cause issues for patients who experience sleep apnea.
Why Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?
Many people are under the impression that a glass of wine will help to encourage a good night’s sleep. While it might make you sleepy, it will definitely not give you the sleep results you are after. During the night, our bodies experience different cycles of sleep. One cycle is known as REM sleep, which is the deepest state of sleep. Consuming alcohol can cause your body to skip the REM sleep cycle, causing your body to feel exhausted the next day.
Patients who suffer from sleep apnea can experience heightened effects of their condition after a night of consuming alcohol. In fact, patients who do not suffer from sleep apnea regularly can also experience symptoms. It is not unusual for adults to snore after a night of consuming alcohol. Alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant and can cause the muscles in the back of the throat to relax, allowing for increased snoring. Breathing during sleep can also slow considerably.
Ways to Lower the Effects on Sleep
If you suffer from sleep apnea, we do suggest that you refrain from drinking alcohol; however, we also know that at times it is an unrealistic expectation. If you wish to consume an alcoholic beverage on occasion, there are tips to help lessen the effects on your sleep. We suggest:
- Stop drinking at least three hours before bedtime
- Do not stay up much later than usual
- Be sure to hydrate with water
- Try not to consume more than one or two alcoholic beverages
- Sleep on your side and not your back
If you have any other questions about this topic or have other concerns about your sleep apnea, we would love to help you. Call our office located in Auburn & Silverdale, WA to schedule an appointment. We are happy to help!