Although many people believe that alcohol can help you to sleep more soundly, in fact this is a common misconception. While you may fall asleep more quickly since alcohol relaxes the body, it does not allow for high quality sleep and you will not feel refreshed when you wake. More importantly, alcohol can actually worsen a snoring problem, even if you do not ordinarily snore when sober. In order to understand why this problem occurs, you need to be aware of the effect that alcohol can have on sleep.
How Alcohol Affects Your Sleep?
During normal sleep, there are two stages called REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). During the NREM stage of sleep, brain activity slows down while the body moves and blood pressure and pulse remain steady. As the sleeper moves into REM, their sleep cycle deepens with less voluntary muscle movements. When you consume alcohol, your sleep pattern becomes disturbed. Although falling asleep is easier, your NREM stage of the cycle becomes longer, and the greater the amount of alcohol consumed, the longer this stage becomes. If you fail to get enough REM sleep, you will wake up exhausted as your body does not get enough opportunity to recharge fully. You will probably also waken more times throughout the night when alcohol has been consumed, and may suffer from vivid dreams and night sweats.
Alcohol And Snoring
Once you are aware of how alcohol affects your body and your sleep patterns, it is easy to see how snoring is closely related to alcohol consumption. When you drink alcohol, your muscles relax more and this causes blockages in the airways at the rear of the throat. Alcohol travels through the body in the same way as a sedative does, causing the oropharynx at the rear of the throat to fold more quickly than when sober. This collapse is one of the primary causes of snoring after drinking alcohol. Even if you only drink a moderate amount of alcohol, studies have proved that inspiratory resistance is increased by up to 4 times, resulting in increased levels of snoring even among those who rarely snore ordinarily. Someone who habitually snores already may find that their inspiratory resistance is increased by up to 8 times and this can lead to further problems including sleep apnea. It is therefore recommended by doctors to avoid drinking alcohol in the hours before bedtime, especially if you already have a snoring problem. There may be another issue at play too that can worsen snoring when consuming alcohol. Quite a lot of people have an allergic reaction to a compound called tyrosine which is found in red wine. Although these reactions are generally mild, they do often cause inflammation which can worsen snoring.
How To Reduce The Effects Of Alcohol On Snoring
Luckily, there are several things that you can try in an attempt to reduce the effects of alcohol on your snoring. While, of course, the most effective way is to eliminate your alcohol consumption completely, if you are unwilling or unable to take this course of action, there are a few other options available. Try eating more when you drink alcohol as this leads to less absorption by the body, or switch to drinks that have a lower alcohol content by swapping hard liquors for wine or beer. Drinking in moderation by sticking to two drinks per day for men or one for women and men over the age of 65 is another option open to you. If you do want to drink more than this amout, you should space out your drinks with an hour between each, and consume a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks. You should avoid drinking any alcohol in the three hours before you go to bed and also avoid eating any food before you go to sleep as this can cause acid reflux and indigestion which worsens snoring. If you try sleeping on your side, you may find that the sound of snoring is reduced, or a snoring mouthpiece, known as an MAD or Mandibular Advancement Device is another option. This device holds your jaw in a forward position to keep the airways open, preventing loose tissues from flapping against each other to produce snoring sounds.