How Does Alcohol Affect Snoring?
Snoring is a common problem for many people. It is a distinctive sound produced in the nasal cavity through loud breathing while we sleep, and in many cases, can be a severe sleep depriver. If not for the snorer, then most obviously for their partners.
Despite being a common problem, many don’t know that sedatives have a worsening effect on snoring habits. If a pint of beer, or a glass of wine, is a regular part of your wind-down routine, you may want to reconsider. Here we will be discussing the adverse effects that alcohol consumption has on your snoring habits.
Even if you are only a natural light snorer, alcohol or other sedatives can drastically increase the audibility of your snoring. It can even induce snoring in those who do not otherwise snore. Read on to find out more, and to find ways to prevent snoring, even if you don’t want to exclude alcohol from your routine.
Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?
The question that many would want to argue about is if alcohol really affects your snoring habit. Some of us have trouble relaxing before bed, especially on stressful days or if we work in difficult occupations. Even being an ordinary, everyday parent can cause sleeplessness, more so if you have a house full of busy or younger children.
Quite often, we use sedatives like alcohol or sleeping pills when our minds don’t want to shut down. However, in some perspectives, alcohol consumption before bed can have a negative impact on your sleep health, not only your snoring.
Studies have proven that alcohol, even when not over-consumed, can play a vital role in reducing the quality of sleep you get. Alcohol may help you to get to sleep by reducing neuron activity and producing neurological chemical adenosine.
The major mechanics of taking sedatives before bed reduces the electrical signals of the brain and induces the actions of adenosine, which causes the feelings of drowsiness and relaxation that eventually make us fall asleep. This practice can, however, lead to dependency, and it can cause fluctuations in your circadian rhythm.
Your circadian rhythm is the mechanism of the brain responsible for providing awareness and tiredness. Fluctuations in this rhythm can lead to suddenly waking from sleep in the middle of your sleeping cycle. Another common behavior induced by drinking alcohol before bed is that it can force you to get up in the middle of the night to relieve your bladder.
Alcohol consumption before sleeping will also affect your REM sleep. REM sleep is important for memory and learning and is also responsible for the natural restoration of the body during this deep sleep cycle. REM sleep takes place four to six times a night as you sleep, and makes up about twenty-five percent of your total sleep cycle.
Alcohol consumption can reduce the amount of time you spend in REM sleep, which for a healthy dose should range about sixty minutes. A reduction in this natural recovery process of the body is what causes the feelings of tiredness and exhaustion associated with hangovers. Loss in REM sleep will affect concentration levels, energy peaks, and your overall learning ability.
Long-term effects will also gradually reduce the prowess of your memory, leading to short term memory loss, and can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Drinking alcohol before bed is thus proven to reduce the quality of sleep that you get, and is known to have varied health implications, in both short and long term conditioning.
Can Alcohol Affect Snoring?
Although alcohol is a reliable sedative, other than affecting the quality of sleep, it can also increase the prominence of snoring. Here is how. As a sedative agent, alcohol reduces the reactive power of jaw muscles and throat muscles, which in turn reduces your natural control over the airways of your mouth and nose that can lead to shallow breathing. Shallow breathing will increase the prominence of snoring, or will even induce snoring in someone who would not snore otherwise.
The muscles in your throat can also cause airway restrictions when it is relaxed by a sedative such as alcohol. If you are already a snorer, this will cause drastic increases and make you snore much louder than usual. Even if you do not snore, relaxed muscles that restrict your breathing will cause snoring. Alcohol consumption can thus be definitely attributed as a causing factor.
Other Conditions That Affect Snoring
Other conditions that can affect snoring include allergies, congestion, and sleep apnea. Allergies that are directly linked to the nasal passage and the lungs, like an allergy for dust and pollen, can increase the prominence of snoring by causing blockages in the throat and mouth.
To effectively relieve snoring associated with allergies, antihistamine drugs would be a good choice. Congestion due to colds or other related causes can also aggravate snoring, but this would pass as soon as the body recovers from any infections.
Sleep apnea is a disease that would be of great concern. Sleep apnea is caused by a narrowing in the throat, which worsens the habit of snoring and can cause patients to never achieve deep states of sleep. If someone suffers from sleep apnea, they will wake up every time the airway is blocked, but will not gain full consciousness.
This can happen several times an hour and will have long term health implications. If you suspect that you might be suffering from sleep apnea, you will need to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and follow any treatment prescribed to you.
How To Prevent Snoring
There are many ways you can improve and prevent snoring habits, which do not all require excluding alcohol from your nightly routine. There are mouthguards and other devices that can aid with keeping the airway open.
These should be available at local drugstores or can be bought from doctors. If alcohol is part of your routine, you should attempt to finish the last drink three hours prior to nodding off. Other ways also include improving sleeping arrangements, like buying better cushioning or sleeping in a better position.
Alcohol is a snoring aggravator, and should to the best of your ability, be avoided before bed. However, snoring does not have to be a persistent problem. Through life-style changes and finding the right device, snoring can often be effectively eliminated. You should also keep in mind and ensure that it is not a sign of a worse condition like sleep apnea.