The Effects of Alcohol on Sleep Apnoea

by Milton Hayes

Drinking alcohol at night, or right before bed, can affect a person who suffers from sleep apnoea in a number of ways. However, there are few who fully understand the effects, or if they need to completely avoid alcohol to minimize the consequences of the drink. The truth about alcohol and sleep apnoea may be a bit surprising.

The Effect of Alcohol on Nighttime Breathing

Generally speaking, alcohol is a substance that can have quite a few impacts on your overall health and well-being. There are many who don't even know that it can affect their sleep. Alcohol will reduce your drive to breathe. It slows the breathing down and makes the breaths shallow. Also, it can result in the relaxation of the muscles in the throat. This means that it will be much more likely for the upper portion of the airway to collapse completely.

Consequences of Drinking Alcohol with Sleep Apenoea

If you drink alcohol, then it is much more likely for apnoea events to take place in someone who already suffers from this issue. This is because oxygen levels in the blood will drop and this can become severe. This can lead to an increase in the level of carbon dioxide in the body, which is a condition referred to as hypercapnia. This means that that effects of sleep apnoea can become even more severe when alcohol is added to the mix.

Should Alcohol be Completely Avoided for those with Sleep Apnoea?

For those who suffer from sleep apnoea, the very best advice is to completely abstain from any use of alcohol. At least, don't drink several hours before going to bed in order to reduce the effects that alcohol can have overnight.

It is also important for anyone suffering from this condition to remember that you need to set up the continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, under the typical sleeping conditions. This means if you drink on a regular basis, but then avoid it before a titration study, the pressure that you usually use may not be enough to maintain your airway when you are drinking.

It is essential to keep in mind that alcohol use plays a huge role in your ability to breathe easy at night, as well as how much additional help you will need from your CPAP machine. The fact is, if you suffer from this condition, avoiding alcohol altogether is going to be the best course of action.