How Alcohol Affects the Body
Before we dive into the reason why you snore when you drink alcohol, it’s important to understand how alcohol affects your body in the first place. To start, alcohol usually starts to affect the body within ten to twenty minutes after consumption. Regardless of what type of alcohol you drink, it will take about 14 hours for your body to fully process the alcohol and for your liver to remove it from your bloodstream to allow your brain to return to normal.
While you’re drinking, the alcohol makes its way through your body and acts as a relaxant. All the muscles in your body will begin to feel less tense and more relaxed, including those in your throat and mouth. The throat and mouth muscles are the ones responsible for snoring and when they are relaxed, you’re more likely to snore.
How Alcohol Impacts Sleep Quality
Not only does alcohol cause you to snore by relaxing your throat and mouth muscles, but it can have an even bigger impact on your quality of sleep. You might fall asleep even faster when you drink alcohol, but what happens after you fall asleep isn’t your typical cycle. When drinking alcohol, the body spends less time in REM sleep which is the most important sleep for concentration and motor skills.
When you drink alcohol, your quality of sleep is very poor due to the lack of REM sleep. You’ll likely wake up throughout the night and feel fatigued in the morning. You might also experience night sweats, insomnia, or a hangover in the morning.
The bottom line: alcohol and sleep don’t go hand in hand. If you want to get a good night of sleep, skip the alcohol and drink some chamomile tea instead.
The Link Between Snoring and Alcohol
Typically, snoring is caused by a blockage of one or more of the air passages in the nose, back of the throat, or in the mouth. When drinking alcohol, the muscles in these specific areas can become relaxed. When they’re relaxed, they’re no longer keeping your airway open and clear. Instead, they’re slightly blocking your airway. As you breathe throughout the night while sleeping, the air passes through the tight airways by forcing it through. The forcing then results in the snoring sound. That’s the sound of your airways trying to force oxygen through. This action is known as respiratory resistance.
When you sleep, your respiratory resistance rises due to weight and gravity. This is why people tend to breathe deeper while they sleep. Normal people double their respiratory resistance while they sleep and those who snore have a respiratory resistance four times higher. Drinking alcohol can raise the respiratory resistance four to five times more. If someone snores already and then drinks alcohol, their respiratory resistance rises up to 8 times higher.
The muscles in the back of the throat close faster in an intoxicated person than a sober person and explains why someone might only snore, or snore louder, when they drink. The more you drink, the more relaxed the tissues and muscles become, and the louder you will snore.
Snoring Treatment in Lee’s Summit, MO
If you tend to snore every time you drink alcohol, it might be a good idea to find out if you snore when you’re not drinking. Snoring is one of the major symptoms of sleep apnea and leaving it untreated can endanger your health tremendously. Have someone sleep in the same room as you or record yourself sleeping to find out if you also snore when you’re sober. If you do, it’s important to visit a physician to request a sleep test. The sleep test will monitor your sleep and determine if you have sleep apnea.
On the flip side, if you don’t snore when you’re sober, it’s likely that it’s only alcohol causing your symptoms. However, it doesn’t hurt to get checked out by a sleep doctor to make sure there’s nothing larger going on. In the meantime, avoid drinking alcohol so you don’t snore. You can also visit us at Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea to explore our snoring treatment options in Lee’s Summit.
If you have a sleep apnea diagnosis or would like to learn more about snoring treatment, request an appointment at Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea with Dr. Pribyl or Dr. Kleoppel to find out if oral appliance therapy is right for you. With consistent use of your oral appliance, your symptoms will improve and you may even stop snoring. Please call (816) 795-1000 to book an appointment today!