Sleep apnea and alcohol is a dangerous cocktail mix. Alcohol consumption before going to bed can induce sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. A study by the researchers reveals that the alcohol consumption at night may cause obstructive sleep apnea, since alcohol tends to relax the muscles in your body which include the throat muscles that collapse, blocking the airway that leads to the lungs. When the airway is blocked, the brain usually sends a signal forcing you to wake up and clear the airway passage. Alcohol reduces the chances of your reflexes, diminishing the chances of your awakening from the sleep during the sleep apnea.
Does alcohol invite the Sandman?
Not really. In fact, alcohol decreases the amount of your REM sleep. It is a myth that a swallow of your favorite drink before going to bed will help you sleep well because the human body tends to develop tolerance to the alcohol after a few nights.
Lack of sleep forces you to increase the quantity of the alcohol consumption, but it results in frequent disruption of the rest. When your body metabolizes the alcohol, it causes excessive sweating, loud snoring, headaches and the regular visits to the bathroom apart from the sleep apnea.
So, Quit alcohol?
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, the best advice is to abstain from alcohol. If you wish to enjoy a drink or two (not more than that), consider drinking several hours before you go to sleep. Limit the alcohol consumption if you have to drink.
Does alcohol affect men and women differently?
Sleep apnea is relatively common among the males than the females. However, women absorb alcohol more because they have fewer enzymes to break down the alcohol molecules. Women are likely to get the higher concentration of liquor despite drinking the same amount as men, which may cause disrupted sleep, snoring, nightmares and headaches.
Women are advised to have alcohol at least 4 hours before the sleep, and the quantity should be restricted to as minimum as possible.