The Link Between Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

alcohol sleep apnea

Also, alcohol can make you stop breathing more often and for longer periods of time if you have SA. This means you’re probably waking up more often throughout the night after a couple of drinks than you normally do. Now, we’re not talking about anything sexy, arousal response actually refers to your body’s natural instinct to wake you up when you stop breathing at night.

Heavy drinking—defined as five or more drinks per day on five or more days in the past month—is linked to chronic sleep problems. But even occasional moderate drinking can disrupt circadian rhythms and interfere with your sleep. Most men would agree that a couple of drinks the night before isn’t worth feeling miserable the next day. However, even if you’re willing to deal with these issues from worsening OSA, consider the other effects of sleep apnea. Another issue with drinking alcohol when you have sleep apnea is that it can make your symptoms worse. Many people who have trouble sleeping turn to alcohol as a way to help them sleep.

It causes loud snoring with occasional gasping, choking, or snorting sounds. Therefore, you could be doing more long-term harm to your health by drinking alcohol if you have SA. An alternative treatment receiving attention is Inspire, an implantable device approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

Depending on how much alcohol is consumed, however, what seems like falling asleep may be something closer to passing out. And we quickly build a tolerance for the sedative effects of alcohol, which means you may need to drink more to have the same initial sleep-inducing effects. However, a person’s sleep quality after alcohol consumption is generally worse. People who consume alcohol may wake up during sleep and experience increased disruptions such as sleep apnea and snoring.

5. Statistical analysis

All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. The information contained herein is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad consumer understanding and knowledge. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. Only a qualified physician in your state can determine if you qualify for and should undertake treatment. Low T Center is a group medical practice providing services to established patients.

Research from 2018 corroborates this, suggesting that people experience a lower duration and quality of REM after consuming alcohol. An older study concluded that alcohol might reduce sleep in the first half of sleep and increase disruption in the second half. Alcohol is classified as a central nervous system depressant, meaning it slows down brain activity. While “relaxed” may sound appealing, alcohol has also been shown to negatively affect sleep and other physiological processes that occur during sleep. Now, combine that with any one of the comorbidities linked to sleep apnea, such as obesity, hypertension, and heart disease. Alcohol consumption can exacerbate and may even cause sleep apnea, but more research is needed to know exactly how alcohol contributes to the initial development of the condition.

Levels of Care

The literature search was subsequently updated to November 1, 2017 to ensure that no recent articles were missed. Additionally, references of research articles and review articles were manually reviewed. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between alcohol consumption and risk of sleep apnoea in adults. Alcohol affects melatonin, the body’s primary sleep regulating hormone.

alcohol sleep apnea

In the handful of studies that have been performed, drinking does not seem to reduce the effectiveness of CPAP on sleep apnea itself. Furthermore, one study did find that higher air pressure settings were sometimes needed to resolve snoring in people who were otherwise showing no other signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Drinking alcohol can interrupt a person’s sleep-wake cycle and may contribute to insomnia in people who rely on alcohol’s sedative effects to initially fall asleep. While snoring is common in people with OSA, most people who snore do not have sleep apnea. In fact, most snoring does not interfere with breathing and is believed to be harmless.

The Impact of Alcohol on Breathing Parameters during Sleep: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Sustained nightly drinking can establish worrying patterns that can persist even after people have stopped drinking, she and other experts say. In summary, alcohol misuse (heavy alcohol use and AUD) appears to be linked in a bi-directional fashion to sleep-related problems such as insomnia and circadian rhythm abnormalities. The recommended treatment for insomnia disorder in the community, as well as those with AUD, is CBT-I. If you have sleep problems, turn to melatonin for a good night’s sleep or try any of our tips for getting to sleep with your CPAP machine, rather than adding to your stressors by drinking alcohol right before bed. Our findings thus provide confirmation that alcohol consumption may cause or exacerbate OSA, and the wider literature suggests that this may especially be the case with alcohol consumed shortly before bedtime. Whilst our findings do not confirm or refute the causality of this association, health care professionals might consider advising against bedtime alcohol among people with, or at risk of, OSA.

  • Alcohol consumption can lead to worsened snoring and induce sleep apnea, which prevents oxygen from reaching the body during sleep.
  • There are a few different conditions that fall into this category, and alcohol affects each one.
  • While low doses of alcohol may help insomnia, it comes with a few risks.
  • It’s true, sleep may happen more quickly after consuming a drink or two.
  • John’s goal is to monitor every department to ensure proper policies and procedures are in place and client care is carried out effortlessly.
  • The circadian clock may modulate sleep-wake cycle with the help of melatonin.

However, this might make things worse, whether you have sleep apnea or not! So, consider skipping the night cap and hopping into bed completely sober for a restful night’s sleep. While it’s a common myth that alcohol can help you sleep, science shows otherwise, particularly for those with OSA.

Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

Studies of populations with HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses were excluded, as these represent selected populations, thus may not be generalizable to the general population. After drinking alcohol, a person with OSA is prone to having more and longer-lasting breathing disruptions. Multiple studies have found that alcohol use increases a person’s apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), which measures how many times per hour a sleeper’s breathing pauses or becomes restricted. Drinking alcohol has also been tied to reduced blood oxygen levels in people with OSA. Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that results in erratic breathing during sleep, which causes sleep disruptions several times during the night.

If abstaining from drinking completely is not realistic, it may be beneficial to reduce alcohol consumption and try to stop drinking at least a few hours before bedtime. Also, try to avoid drinking at least two or three hours before bed (though several hours is typically better). This can help give your body time to metabolize the alcohol before bedtime to help reduce the risk of alcohol affecting your sleep.

Statistical Analysis:

This type of sleep apnea happens when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate called the uvula, the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue. Martinique writes content focused on sleep health, science, and trends. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Ecology and master’s degree in Environmental Health and has research experience in environmental microbiology and aquatic science. Martinique loves to view the world through an ecological lens, where everything is interconnected.

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

It can have a relaxing effect, but research shows that too much alcohol can lead to a lack of sleep or insomnia. Alcohol can increase the quantity of non-REM sleep during the eco sober house rating first half of the night, but it decreases REM sleep in the second half. Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you receive.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, reach out to your primary care provider for help. But just because you snore or wake up a little tired doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea. So how do you tell if it’s just being restless or possibly sleep apnea? An indicator of sleep apnea is if you have a spouse sleeping next to you who notices loud snoring, gasping for breath or even if you stop breathing while sleeping.

Leave a Comment