What Is Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea is a prevalent disorder that involves pauses in breathing, shallow breath or a total seizure of breathing for long durations during sleep. Pauses in breathing might last 10 seconds or go up to a minute hence can repeatedly disrupt your natural sleeping patterns all through the night. Normal breathing naturally resumes with a loud snoring or choking sound which can be devastating.
It Causes Brain Patterns To Go Haywire
The human brain has two types of brain wave patterns the alpha and delta activity. The alpha activity of the brain is represented by the state of your brain during quiet sleep or in a restful state. On the other hand, the delta activity is responsible for memory formation and learning.
When you consume alcohol, it disrupts the shifting of the brain wave patterns. Instead of switching from one brain pattern to another, alcohol switches both of them on. This disruption in brain activity can inhibit restorative sleep and lead to sleep apnea, among other complications.
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How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep Apnea 8 Risks
The idea of a nightcap a drink before bed is a popular one. Many people believe that a drink or two before you turn out the lights helps you sleep better. While research has proven that this is not the case, for people with sleep apnea, a drink before bed can actually be dangerous. Alcohol and sleep apnea dont mix. Here are eight risks.
Drinking Can Make Osa Symptoms Worse
Another issue with drinking alcohol when you have sleep apnea is that it can make your symptoms worse.
Weve mentioned that alcohol can make your SA more severe. A natural consequence of that is that your symptoms might get worse.
For example, lets say some symptoms you have that are caused by SA include feeling tired during the day, waking up with dry mouth, and irritability. Drinking alcohol may mean youre dealing with even more severe symptoms than normal.
Most men would agree that a couple of drinks the night before isnt worth feeling miserable the next day. However, even if youre willing to deal with these issues from worsening OSA, consider the other effects of sleep apnea.
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Circadian Rhythm And The Stomach Are Connected Alcohol Weakens The Gut
Ever felt like your stomach and brain are in sync and connected? Well, its because they are. Your brain and stomach are directly connected, and the state of your brain or stomach affect each other.
Considering this, we can conclude that the circadian rhythm and gut are also connected, as the state of your gut can affect the state of the circadian rhythm activity.
Therefore, alcohol consumption weakens the gut through toxins, bacteria, and food entering the gastrointestinal tract and the bloodstream. This negatively affects the circadian rhythm and disrupts it completely.
So, instead of having a good nights sleep, because of alcohol consumption, youre going to have gut issues, problems with digestion, and ultimately, inability to stay asleep.
Should Sleep Apnea Patients Avoid Alcohol
If you like drinking alcohol on a daily basis then you will probably not like the answer to this question. It is advisable that if you are suffering from sleep apnea to abstain from the intake of alcohol. This is especially the case for those chronic drinkers.
If you cannot avoid the occasional alcohol consumption then it is vital you avoid consuming it several hours before going to bed. This will help you to minimize the effects of the alcohol on your sleep apnea overnight. Better yet, why dont you substitute it with healthier beverages like tea to help with sleep?
It is important that you ensure you use your apnea treatment every night. You should also adjust the continuous positive airway pressure when you consume alcohol because the normal continuous positive airway pressure for your typical sleeping conditions may not be enough to push open your airway once you fall asleep.
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Alcohol Use Disorder And Sleep
For those with severe alcohol use disorder, sleep disturbances may also include the following:
- Daytime fatigue
- Frequent awakenings
- Longer time required to fall asleep
It seems reasonable to think that people with an alcohol use disorder who quit drinking would return to normal sleep patterns, but actually, the sudden cessation of alcohol consumption can result in alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which can produce pronounced insomnia and persistent sleep fragmentation.
Lack of sleep is one of the most common symptoms mentioned by those who are going through alcohol withdrawal after they stop drinking.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can lead to the following:
- Increased REM sleep related to withdrawal hallucinations
- Reduction in restful sleep
- Sleep consisting of brief periods of REM sleep
- Sleep interrupted by numerous awakenings
Alcohol Is Not A Sleep Aid
âThe immediate and short-term impact of alcohol is to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, and this effect on the first half of sleep may be partly the reason some people with insomnia use alcohol as a sleep aid,â Ebrahim says. âHowever, this is offset by having more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night.â
âAlcohol should not be used as a sleep aid, and regular use of alcohol as a sleep aid may result in alcohol dependence,â he says.
The findings will appear in the April 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Alcohol tricks people into thinking they are getting better sleep, says Scott Krakower, DO. He is an addiction specialist at North Shore-LIJ in Mineola, N.Y. âPeople who drink alcohol often think their sleep is improved, but it is not.â
REM is the more mentally restorative type of sleep, says Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep specialist in Scottsdale, Ariz. âAlcohol is not an appropriate sleep aid. If you rely on alcohol to fall asleep, recognize that you have a greater likelihood to sleepwalk, sleep talk, and have problems with your memory.â
If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about how to improve your sleep quality. He or she may be able to rule out underlying sleep disorders like sleep apnea and suggest appropriate sleep aids.
Better sleep habits can also help. Some tips to improve sleep habits include:
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Why Does Alcohol Make You Sleepy
Alcohol can make you feel sleepy because it is a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol affects the brain by affecting neurotransmitters, including GABA . GABA is a neurotransmitter that dampens activity in the brain, directing the brain to slow down.
Alcohol also impacts other chemicals like adenosine, which prevents the brain from becoming stimulated. These processes produce a relaxed and tired sensation.
Alcohol Increases The Risk Of Stroke
The worsening condition of the cardiac health in those with sleep apnea can be a contributing factor in the risk of stroke.
Alcohol intensifies and speeds along damage to cardiovascular health and thus increases stroke risk. Other studies found that snoring, a primary indicator of sleep apnea, increased the risk of stroke and diminished the chances of recovery if one occurred.
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What Is A Normal Sleep Pattern
Normal sleep consists of two alternating states of sleep in which your brain waves show varying activity
- Slow Wave Sleep
- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
In slow-wave sleep or Non-REM sleep, your brain waves are slow. It usually makes up about 75 per cent of your night sleep and is restful and deep.
While the rapid eye movements sleep makes up about 25 per cent of sleep time for young adults. During REM sleep, your eyes make rapid movement while youre still sleeping. Its less restful and associated with dreaming.
Scientific research does not find the exact function of REM sleep for the body. But, it seems to be required for the restoration. Some laboratory rat studies found that when rats are deprived of REM sleep, it can result in death within a few weeks.
Alcohol Increases The Risk Of Sleep Disordered Breathing
Lead investigator Paul Peppard, PhD, senior epidemiologist with the Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison and his team:
found that in men, even moderate habitual alcohol consumption increased the risk of sleep-disordered breathing. Each additional alcohol drink per day increased the odds of sleep-disordered breathing by approximately 25%.
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Why Drunk Sleep Make You Feel More Tired After Waking Up
Drunk does help you fall asleep quickly. Then how about when you wake up the next morning? Commonly you are feeling tired, still very irritable, and you are having trouble to concentrate. And you will feel as if you didnt sleep in the previous night at all. Why? Now the reason is that alcohol stops the most important parts of sleep from taking effect, especially for REM sleep. When we go through the REM sleep, our brains are working very hard to have a reset and be ready for the next day. It is filing away memories in different areas. So when we start the next day we start afresh. But alcohol disrupts the REM sleep and breaks the brain reset. So you feel bad.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Causes
Obstructive sleep apnea is when there is a physical obstruction in the airways which completely blocks breathing. The mouth and throat are lined with soft tissues, which are normally prevented from blocking breathing by simple muscle tension. When someone completely relaxes during sleep, these soft tissues can sag into the airways. A partial obstruction can result in snoring, and a complete obstruction is sleep apnea.Whether the soft tissues in the throat and mouth block the airways can be caused or influenced by a number of different risk factors. Being overweight or obese is highly correlated with obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, having a higher body mass index is more than double the risk factor than any other sleep apnea cause.
There are also congenital factors that increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Men are more likely than women to experience severe sleep apnea. There are also physiological differences, such as a deviated septum, that can increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Nearer-term causes include the use of drugs like alcohol or opiates. Alcohol causes the muscles in the throat to relax. Opiates cause respiratory depression, meaning less pressure is produced by breathing. Both of these are sleep apnea causes.3
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Does Alcohol Cause Sleep Apnea And Sleeplessness
The relationship between alcohol, sleep apnea, and sleeplessness is as complicated as any other three-sided dynamic. While alcohol may make you feel drowsy and relaxed in the short-term, it actually keeps you awake and makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. It also disrupts your bodys melatonin levels and makes sleep less restful than it normally would.
Alcohol doesnt cause sleep apnea, but regular drinking puts you at higher risk for developing sleep apnea and can make current sleep apnea episodes worse. If you suffer from the effects of sleep apnea, you should avoid alcohol altogether but, its still possible to enjoy alcohol occasionally in moderation.
The subject has been frequently researched, with some studies as old as nearly forty years old and some as newer as only a few months but they all point to the same conclusion: alcohol causes sleeplessness and makes your sleep apnea worse. In a more recent one study, nearly all participants surveyed experienced drastic changes in their apnea-hypopnea index after alcohol consumption versus on a normal night. AHI is a figure used to measure sleep apnea by adding the number of respiratory pauses and shallow breaths you take in at any given hour of sleep. The higher the AHI, the more severe the apnea event and vice-versa.
So, alcohol alone wont cause sleep apnea, but it will cause sleeplessness and will certainly impact your sleep apnea if you have it.
Alcohols Lasting Effects On Sleep
Because of the damage that alcohol can do to your sleep cycles, sleep problems are common, even if you stop drinking. You may notice some worsened insomnia during alcohol withdrawal. However, you may continue to have trouble sleeping for years after you stop drinking.
Some people in recovery may try to start drinking again to improve their sleep. However, the alcohol will continue to damage their sleep cycles, and the problem will not get better.
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Alcohol Impacts The Sleep Cycle
Did you know alcohol can disrupt your natural sleep cycle? This can happen to anyone, but particularly those with SA, as patients can be more vulnerable to sleep issues and sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is a serious issue, as it can increase your risk for potentially life-threatening conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
Alcohol affects melatonin, the bodys primary sleep regulating hormone. Your body usually releases melatonin after dark to help you sleep. However, even moderate amounts of alcohol about an hour before bedtime can lower melatonin levels by about 20%. This may make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Also, alcohol can make REM sleep less effective. It may even make you skip REM cycles as you sleep. REM sleep is mentally restorative, and can help your mind feel fresh and rested. It may help with mood and memory, as well as learning, so disrupting the REM cycle may cause a few different issues for your life and body.
Alcohol And A Good Night’s Sleep Don’t Mix
A new review of 27 studies shows that alcohol does not improve sleep quality. According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but it reduces rapid eye movement sleep.
And the more you drink before bed, the more pronounced these effects. REM sleep happens about 90 minutes after we fall asleep. It’s the stage of sleep when people dream, and it’s thought to be restorative. Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and rob you of needed ZZZs. Learn more about health problems caused by alcohol.
âAlcohol may seem to be helping you to sleep, as it helps induce sleep, but overall it is more disruptive to sleep, particularly in the second half of the night,â says researcher Irshaad Ebrahim. He is the medical director at The London Sleep Centre in the U.K. âAlcohol also suppresses breathing and can precipitate sleep apnea,â or pauses in breathing that happen throughout the night.
The more a person drinks before bed, the stronger the disruption. One to two standard drinks seem to have minimal effects on sleep, Ebrahim says.
What Are The Long
After about the first hour and a half of sleep your body falls into a REM cycle, but alcohol can actually reduce the effectiveness of that sleep stage or even skip the first cycle. This is when you dream and its considered the most restorative sleep state. Typically there are six to seven cycles of REM sleep which is combined with deep sleep cycles .
Alcohol consumption leads to missing several REM cycles, which leaves your mind sleep-deprived. The REM cycle restores your brain while deep sleep restores your body. Since alcohol can put you directly into a deep sleep, it gives off the sensation of having had a restful sleep, but you can wake up mentally exhausted. This is why staying asleep for more than a few hours after drinking can be difficult. This can have a cumulative effect to the extent of having the same issues even after abstaining from alcohol.
Faster Sleep Doesnt Mean Better Sleep
Using a CPAP machine can help sufferers of OSA get a much better nights sleep, but sometimes settling down at bedtime can be a problem for anyone. When you drink alcohol, you may fall asleep hard and fast, but alcohol will only exacerbate your sleep apnea, essentially doubling down on your sleep disruption. Drinking alcohol can actually increase the apnea events and their duration, and youre likely to feel the symptoms in the morning.
As mentioned above, one of the effects of alcohol is to cause muscle relaxation. If you remember what they told you when you first sought treatment for OSA, it all begins with relaxation of the muscles of the soft palate, which then descends to block your airway and cause repeated micro-waking events throughout the night.
You dont usually notice it, but youre actually being robbed of restorative REM sleep and thats why you awaken feeling as though you were up half the night. Muscle relaxation caused by alcohol has the same effect, even on people without OSA,2 so combining the two means youre in for a rough morning.
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Understanding Alcohol And How It Effects Sleep Apnea
Sleep is generally known to assist recovery from physical, mental, and brain fatigue caused by daytime activities. Poor quality sleep leads to increased stress, fatigue, and mood disorders . It also raises risks of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease .
If you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea , you must know that drinking alcohol can increase apnea events and their duration.
In OAS, breathing stops for brief periods during sleep. Its because the normal flow of air is repeatedly prevented throughout the night. Alcohol disturbs the length of sleep state and natural cycle by changing the total amount of time you sleep, and the time it takes you to fall asleep. In short, it can worsen your sleep apnea symptoms.
Recent research studies assess how alcohol affects your sleep apnea and snoring by relaxing airway muscles . These findings must make to want to change your drinking and sleep habits.
This article is compiled to provide information gathered from credible, fact-based sources to give you an overview of how alcohol affects your sleep apnea? Furthermore, if you choose to drink, well provide guide on how to get a better nights sleep. We also answer common questions that you may have about how drinking impacts sleep health.