Do you love to wind down with a glass of wine or a beer before bed? If so, you’re not alone. Many people enjoy a nightcap as a way to relax before sleep.
However, your favourite bedtime beverage may be the cause of your snoring. In this article, we’ll explore how alcohol and snoring are actually linked, and what you can do about it.
Alcohol and Snoring: 13 Surprising Effects You Need To Know
Believe it or not, drinking alcohol, especially before bedtime, can actually cause your snoring to become louder and more pronounced.
So if you’re looking for ways to reduce your snoring, cutting back on alcohol may be one step to consider. Keep reading to learn more about the surprising link about alcohol and snoring.
1. Relaxes the Throat Muscles
The first way alcohol can cause snoring is by relaxing the throat muscles – this can narrow the airway, making it more difficult for air to flow through.
In addition, when the throat muscles are relaxed, they are more likely to vibrate and can create the loud, rumbling sound that we know as snoring.
Make sure to drink in moderation if you are concerned about your snoring.
2. Deprives the Body of Oxygen
What comes first, the chicken or the egg? In this case, it’s the alcohol that leads to snoring.
When you drink alcohol, it can cause your body to absorb less oxygen, and this is because alcohol decreases the efficiency of the respiratory system.
When the body is deprived of oxygen, it can cause snoring.
Drink in moderation to avoid depriving your body of oxygen and causing snoring.
3. Increases Body Weight
Another way that alcohol can cause snoring is by increasing body weight. When you gain weight, it can lead to a narrowing of the airway. This is because fatty tissue can build up in the throat and around the base of the tongue, which makes it difficult for air to flow through and can cause snoring.
Try to maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk of snoring.
4. Causes Swelling in the Throat
Alcohol can also cause swelling in the throat, increasing blood flow to the area.
When the tissues in the throat swell, it can narrow the airway and make it more difficult for air to flow through. This can cause snoring.
Limit your alcohol intake to reduce your risk of throat swelling and snoring.
5. Causes Nasal Congestion
Alcohol can also cause nasal congestion because it can dilate the blood vessels in the nose. When the blood vessels in the nose are dilated, it can cause swelling and blockage.
This can make it difficult for air to flow through the nose and can lead to snoring.
To avoid nasal congestion, drink alcohol in moderation and keep your head elevated when you sleep.
6. Irritates the Throat
Another way that alcohol can cause snoring is by irritating the throat. This is because alcohol can dry out the throat and make the tissues more likely to swell.
Note that when the tissues in the throat swell, it can narrow the airway and make it more difficult for air to flow through, leading to snoring.
To avoid irritating your throat, drink alcohol in moderation and stay hydrated.
7. Increases Blood Pressure
Alcohol can also increase blood pressure. This is because it causes the body to release stress hormones. When these hormones are released, they can constrict the blood vessels and raise blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, it can make it more difficult for air to flow through the blood vessels and can lead to snoring.
If you are concerned about your blood pressure, drink alcohol in moderation or avoid it altogether.
8. Dries Out the Throat
Dry throat is expected when you drink alcohol, mainly because alcohol can cause the body to lose fluids. When the throat is dry, the tissues are more likely to swell.
This can narrow the airway and make it more difficult for air to flow through. As a result, you may snore.
Most people take a sip of water before bed to avoid waking up with a dry throat.
9. Affects Sleep Patterns
Another way that alcohol can cause snoring is by affecting sleep patterns. Drinking alcohol can make you tired and cause you to fall asleep more easily.
However, alcohol can also cause fragmented sleep so that you may wake up frequently.
When you wake up frequently, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and make snoring more likely.
To avoid this, limit your alcohol intake before bed and try to get a whole night’s sleep.
10. Depresses the Nervous System
Medical experts say that alcohol can cause snoring and depress the nervous system. When the nervous system is depressed, it can lead to a relaxation of the throat muscles. This can cause a narrowing of the airway and make it difficult for air to flow through.
In addition, when the nervous system is depressed, it can also cause the blood vessels in the throat to swell, leading to a vibrating sound when you breathe, which we know as snoring.
11. Increases the Risk of Sleep Apnea
Alcohol can increase the risk of sleep apnea because it can depress the nervous system, cause the throat muscles to relax, and lead to a narrowing airway. In addition, when the nervous system is depressed, it can also cause the blood vessels in the throat to swell.
Science has shown that sleep apnea is a condition linked to snoring. Sleep apnea means that your breathing is interrupted while you sleep, which can lead to snoring and can also be dangerous because it can cause you to stop breathing altogether.
12. Worsens Allergies
If you suffer from allergies, alcohol can make them worse because alcohol can cause the body to produce histamines. Histamines are chemicals released when the body fights infection or an allergy.
They can cause the nose and throat vessels to swell and block airflow. As a result, you may snore.
To avoid this, you can drink alcohol in moderation and take an antihistamine before bed.
13. Worsens Existing Sleep Apnea
If you already have sleep apnea, drinking alcohol can make it worse. This is because alcohol can relax the throat muscles and cause the airway to narrow. In addition, when the nervous system is depressed, it can also cause the blood vessels in the throat to swell.
This can lead to snoring and can also be dangerous because it can cause you to stop breathing altogether. The danger is even greater if you have sleep apnea and drink alcohol regularly. Therefore, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether if you have sleep apnea.
Alcohol and sNoring: What You Can Do About It
If you’re a snorer and enjoy drinking alcohol before bed, you can do a few things to help reduce your snoring.
Sleep on your side – this will help keep your airway open and prevent your tongue from blocking it.
In addition, you can try using a humidifier to help keep your throat moist and reduce snoring.
Elevate your head with pillows – this will also help keep your airway open.
Choose a firm pillow – a soft pillow can make snoring worse. But make sure the pillow isn’t too firm, as this can lead to neck pain.
Drink plenty of water – this will help prevent dehydration and worsening snoring.
Hydration before going to bed is critical!
Avoid drinking alcohol before bed – if you must drink, do so earlier in the evening, so your body has time to metabolize the alcohol before you sleep.
If you cannot avoid drinking before bed, drink moderately and limit yourself to one or two drinks. You can also try opting for a lighter drink, such as wine.
Finally, you can try using a nasal dilator – a small device that you insert into your nose to help keep your airway open. This device helps to hold your nostrils open while you sleep. This can help reduce snoring.
Tips to help reduce your risk of developing sleep apnea if you drink alcohol
1. Drink in moderation
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Drinking too much can lead to weight gain, a significant risk factor for sleep apnea.
2. Avoid Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in two hours for men, and three or more drinks in two hours for women. Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.
3. Choose a Lighter Drink
If you drink alcohol, choose a lighter drink such as wine. Drinking beer or hard liquor can lead to weight gain, a significant risk factor for sleep apnea.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water will help prevent dehydration and worsening sleep apnea.
Alcohol and SNoring: Common Questions
Can Alcohol Affect Breathing?
Alcohol can affect your breathing by causing you to feel short of breath. It can also make breathing harder for you if you have a condition like asthma or COPD.
If you drink too much alcohol, it can slow down your breathing and even stop it completely. This can lead to coma or death.
Can Alcohol Make Snoring Worse?
Yes, alcohol can make snoring worse. When you drink alcohol, your muscles relax, including the muscles in your throat. This can cause your airway to collapse and make snoring louder.
In addition, if you have sleep apnea, drinking alcohol can make it harder for you to breathe and may even stop your breathing altogether.
Can Alcohol Cause Sleep Apnea?
Yes, alcohol can cause sleep apnea. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in your throat and can block your airway. This can make breathing difficult and lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
If you drink alcohol, it is crucial to stay hydrated and to drink in moderation. However, drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk for other health problems, such as liver disease. You must see a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment if you think you have sleep apnea.
Treatment options can include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and using a CPAP machine to help you breathe at night. Surgery is also an option for some people.
Does Alcohol Make it Hard to Breathe?
It’s hard to say how alcohol specifically affects breathing, as it depends on several factors, including how much you drink, your overall health, and any underlying medical conditions you may have. However, we know alcohol can have a general depressive effect on the nervous system, leading to shallow or irregular breathing.
In addition, alcohol can also cause dehydration, which can make it difficult for your body to get the oxygen it needs. You should talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about how alcohol affects your breathing.
Is Snoring Bad For Your Health?
There is no definitive answer, as it depends on the underlying cause of the snoring. However, snoring can generally disrupt sleep and lead to daytime fatigue. It can also indicate an underlying sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. If you’re concerned about snoring, you should talk to your doctor.
What Treatments are Available for Sleep Apnea?
Treatment options for sleep apnea include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and quitting smoking. Other options include using a CPAP machine to help you breathe at night or surgery to correct the underlying cause of sleep apnea. Talking to your doctor about which treatment option is best for you is essential.
Alcohol and Snoring: Our Final Thoughts
When it comes to snoring, alcohol is often thought of as a primary culprit. And while it’s true that alcohol can contribute to snoring, it’s not the only factor. Other factors affecting your propensity to snore include your sleep position, allergies, and even the common cold.
So if you’re looking to get a better night’s sleep, it’s worth considering that alcohol is a significant factor that you can control.
If you’re struggling with snoring, talk to your doctor. They may be able to recommend lifestyle changes or other treatments that can help. And in the meantime, try to limit your alcohol consumption, especially before bed. Cheers to a better night’s sleep!
Note: Always consult your doctor regarding your health.