Can Drinking Lead to Sleep Apnea?
Drinking? Causing health problems? Whatever your opinion on it is there does seem to be quite a bit of sleep related problems that are caused by alcohol besides a hangover. But it does beg the question, can drinking lead to Sleep Apnea? I mean, look at how many other problems seem to be a risk for Sleep Apnea. Well first off…
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea, to put it simply, is a blockage in your throat during sleep. This blockage can lead to tiny wakes during your sleep that, although unnoticed, will lower the quality of your sleep. There are multiple reasons for the blockage, so people just have an abnormal amount of tissue in there throat. Others are borderline and their throat just relaxes in their sleep from the position they sleep in. For both their are ways to help solve it. Then back to the question at hand, how does alcohol affect it?
What alcohol does to your throat
Just like how your body relaxes during sleep, your body will also relax even more so while under the influence of alcohol. This means that while your throat would regularly have a clear airway during sleep, it might not if you fall asleep while drunk. The solution to this is just not to drink before bed. If for some reason alcohol is the only thing that can put you to sleep then your quality of sleep will go down.
I understand some people can only go to sleep with alcohol when under extreme distress. That’s why there are alternatives such as Ambien or other medicines that can help people feel more tired. If you’re chronically unable to sleep because of such anxieties then you may want to consider seeing a therapist or doctor to try and resolve it.
The link between alcohol and Sleep Apnea
So now that you know what alcohol does to Sleep Apnea we can finally answer the question of whether or not alcohol leads to Sleep Apnea. In short, it doesn’t. However, continual drinking of alcohol can lead to excess weight and the lubrication of the throat that in the future could lead to Sleep Apnea.
The problem is the lubrication in the throat exponentially worsens Sleep Apnea if somebody already has it. It’s not hard to see how alcohol – something that loosens the throat – could makes somebody who already has a problem with their throat collapsing in the middle of the night. But just how far does the problem go?
Will alcohol kill me?
Alcohol is always to be avoided in extreme usage if you have either Central or Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Alcohol can kill those with Sleep Apnea. But it really depends on the amount of alcohol, severity of the Sleep Apnea, and random little problems that have to do with each person’s physique. Most likely, it’d have to be quite a bit of alcohol and really bad Sleep Apnea to actually kill someone.
The safe amount to drink
Like I said, even though it might not kill in small amounts, even the little sips can worsen the Sleep Apnea. For someone who might only wake up 30 times a night, they could wake up another 10-30 times just because they decided to have a couple beers. This isn’t something that can kill but is definitely something that will be remembered (on top of the hangover) the next day when you’re feeling dead tired.
But you might want to keep in mind the effect that a beer belly could have on Sleep Apnea.