Alcohol Cause Snoring?
- Can alcohol cause snoring? It’s a question many people have asked themselves in the middle of the night, when their partner’s heavy breathing just won’t shut up.
- While there are plenty of myths about alcohol and snoring circulating out there, there’s also plenty of research-backed science on the subject too.
- Let’s take a look at what you need to know about alcohol and snoring, including how to stop it once and for all if it’s been plaguing your sleep.
Things to know about alcohol and snoring
1. Alcohol makes your mouth dry and dries out your throat muscles. If you’re not drinking enough water to make up for it, that can contribute to snoring.
2. As blood alcohol levels rise, muscle tone falls and relaxation increases which causes relaxation of the larynx (the voice box) and other muscles in your throat. This is what leads to snoring or sleep apnea (cessation of breathing during sleep).
3. The more alcohol you drink, or if you drink rapidly before going to bed, then take a sedative/hypnotic medication such as Ambien or Lunesta—then things get even worse!
4. In fact, alcohol combined with these drugs has been shown to increase snoring by 30% compared to just taking a drug alone.
5. It’s also important to know that over-the-counter cold medications like Sudafed contain dextromethorphan (DM), an ingredient used in many over-the-counter cough suppressants and antihistamines. DM may worsen sleep apnea symptoms when taken with alcohol
6. When people are given high doses of DM (such as those found in some cold medicines), they experience an increase in central nervous system activity, causing them to breathe faster than normal—which results in increased oxygen demand and carbon dioxide production that leads to snoring.
Tips for preventing alcohol induced snoring
- Drink moderately.
- Eat a healthy snack before bed.
- Drink lots of water while you drink.
- Cut back on or avoid caffeine, which dehydrates your body and increases alertness.
- Sleep on your side rather than your back.
- Try using nose strips to open up airways and keep air flowing smoothly, which will help prevent snoring.
- Take a decongestant like Sudafed an hour before bedtime.
- See your doctor if none of these tips work for you.
Sleep in a quiet room
There are few things more likely to disturb a good night’s sleep than noise. It doesn’t have to be an obnoxiously loud TV or radio, either.
Simply being in a room with light snoring can cause your own breathing and heart rate to pick up—and you may end up fighting off an attack of sleep apnea.
To guard against these types of disruptions, find a quiet room or ask family members or roommates to be mindful of their behavior while you sleep.
If that’s not possible, consider investing in earplugs (or simply wearing them when you go to bed). And if you share a bed with someone who has trouble keeping quiet at night? You might want to think about sleeping apart.
Try sleeping on your side, or using pillows to prop up your neck
Sleeping in a neutral position can help reduce snoring, but different people have different preferences. Some prefer to sleep on their side; others find it more comfortable to sleep on their back.
If you find that one sleeping position is better than another for your snoring problem, try creating a nightly routine that will help reinforce those habits.
For example, some people who are prone to snoring use pillows or water bottles (placed between their knees) to prop up their necks and make sure they’re sleeping with an open airway.
In many cases, making small changes like these can go a long way toward reducing or even eliminating symptoms of snoring altogether. And when you wake up refreshed and without headaches—you’ll know it was all worth it!
Limit your booze intake before bedtime
While it may seem counterintuitive, there is evidence that alcohol can cause snoring. A study published in The European Respiratory Journal showed that drinking even a small amount of alcohol before bedtime can increase your risk of snoring and sleep apnea— a serious sleep disorder that causes people to temporarily stop breathing as they sleep.
So if you’re going to drink, stick to one drink or less and make sure you’re not going to bed intoxicated. Though rare, alcohol overdose can be fatal; always have a safe ride home or plan on staying put until morning if you do imbibe heavily.
If you drink, don’t drink too much
No one likes a sloppy drunk. Drinking alcohol can put you at risk for many different health issues, including weight gain, liver damage and heart disease.
But what about snoring? Many of us link snoring to drinking too much alcohol—but is there any truth to that association?
To find out if booze really does cause snoring, we first need to know what causes snoring in general. Then we can break down whether or not alcohol plays a role.
We’ll also look at some steps you can take to minimize your chances of waking up with a dry mouth and sore throat while helping you sleep more soundly. Let’s get started!
Facts About Snoring
The airway is supposed to stay open when you breathe so air moves smoothly through it when you inhale and exhale. If your upper airway becomes partially blocked, however.
It will narrow as your tongue falls back into your throat while sleeping on your back (the most common position). This makes it harder for air to pass through during exhalation; instead, some of it flows around your tongue instead of past it.
Avoid alcohol before sleep
Too much alcohol leads to dehydration, which means your throat muscles will tense up in an attempt to compensate for lost fluids. More tension means more air resistance, which translates into even louder snores. So next time you’re offered a drink and you’re looking to get some sleep afterwards, say no thanks.
Instead, grab a glass of water (or even better, cucumber water) before bedtime and take smaller sips throughout the evening so that your body is well-hydrated during sleep.
Better yet: have just one or two drinks over time instead of binging all night long. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed—and quieter too!
Eat a full meal before bed if you have wine with dinner
If you have a glass of wine or two with dinner, it’s probably not a big deal if you’re otherwise healthy. But if alcohol causes your sleep to suffer, as it does for some people, going to bed hungry might exacerbate that effect.
Your body needs energy—in particular, calories—to power through what can be a long night of snoozing. Plus, getting enough sleep is essential for overall health:
One recent study found that getting six hours of shut-eye reduces our risk of cancer by 22 percent; seven hours cuts risk by 24 percent! It’s also important for cognitive function and mood regulation.
Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, so take care not to skimp on your restorative slumber.
Reduce stress when you can, because it can cause snoring
Alcohol may cause snoring in two ways: while drinking, and after you drink. While you’re drinking alcohol, it can cause you to relax your muscles too much and make it hard for you to breathe easily through your nose.After you drink alcohol, a hangover can dehydrate your tissues and cause swelling in your airways.
The worst part is that dehydration makes you feel like drinking more alcohol when you wake up hungover—but if that happens enough times, it could keep your body from developing regular breathing habits and make snoring even worse. So if a few drinks on occasion tend to cause snoring problems for you, skip ‘em! You can still have fun without them.
Avoid caffeine before bed; it can interrupt sleep cycles.
Caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It also increases alertness, which could interfere with your sleep schedule.
Alcohol is a major cause of snoring; you’re more likely to have pauses in breathing while you sleep if you drink alcohol within six hours of bedtime. If excessive alcohol consumption is a problem, you should seek help from a medical professional.
Some people may be using alcohol to self-medicate for an underlying condition such as anxiety or depression—getting help for these issues can improve your quality of life, not just reduce snoring in those who drink excessively.