ADVENTing: Alcohol & Snoring

Alcohol can play a a major role in your in ability to sleep well. On this episode of ADVENTing, we connect the dots between alcohol, sleep and snoring.
ADVENTing: Alcohol & Snoring
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Published on
October 30, 2019
Updated on
October 30, 2019

Alcohol can play a major role in your inability to sleep well. On this episode of ADVENTing, we're connecting the dots between alcohol, sleep and snoring.

So how about alcohol and snoring? Let's talk about that little dance.

We can chat about.

And sleep apnea because it kinda goes hand in hand. But alcohol, is there a factor there between alcohol and snoring?

I definitely snore more when I drink.

So and of one snorer, is that true for the whole population?

I would say yes, 100%.

Correct and why? For those that.

You know, I mean it always tends to be more of you know, alcohol consumption, muscle tone issue, and so it's less. Also changes kind of sleep patterns and so people, it relaxes everything more and so--

So then you snore more. And then where is the snoring coming from?

The throat, always 100% of time.

Where in the throat? So the throat, like that, just kinda connect the dot. Because people don't necessarily know that. You know what I mean, they know snoring is annoying. But then they're like somewhere back there it's happening. It's happening in your throat.



How many times in residency or even outside of residency, did you run into this situation where It's usually a guy, right, so the guy comes in maybe 20s, 30s, 40s, could be 50s, big night out at the bar passes out at home or whatever snores like crazy comes in their uvula is like massively swollen? Like touching their tongue, they feel like they're gonna swallow it. Scared that something's going on.


And you look in their throat, and you're like oh, did you drink last night? And they're like, yeah. And you're like, did you snore? And they're like, yeah. I'm like, you just beat up your uvula. You know, and so your just sitting there just beating that thing up. Now it's happened to me too. And it's really annoying because you feel like your choking on this thing.


But yeah.

So the alcohol, so the snoring is coming from your throat the actual sound is coming from your palette. Your uvula is the punching bag, that's getting punched on when that's all happening. And then, you know, if somebody has the tendency towards snoring to begin with It's because those areas are lax or that area's tight, or the tissue is too loose to begin with. So you slap a little alcohol into their system and everything relaxes more and then it just amps up everything. Then the other factor, that's just the throat part. The snoring is coming from the throat. But it's a almost many of our nose and sinus patients know absolutely that if they have a drink or two they're gonna have a horrible night and those things come together. So the snoring's coming from your throat and that's where the sound is coming from. Then you want to add insult to injury you make your nose stuffier. So when you drink alcohol, it causes for many folks, it'll cause the tissues in the nose to engorge and swell and then your more stuffy.


So your nose is stuffed up, therefore, your mouth has to drop open and your throat is more relaxed because the alcohol is like the perfect storm. Do you want to set yourself up for a bad night is having a few drinks and then going to bed. And then to top that off, It's just the the alcohol by itself to absolutely disrupts the normal sleep cycles. And so it's like, this, yeah. Not that you shouldn't drink but I'm just saying it that's the truth it's not like an old wives tale like that's true. The truth is if you had any issues where you have a tendency towards either nasal obstruction or snoring or sleep apnea you absolutely will make those issues worse if you have a drink or two, period.

I'm a realist about things in the sense that you know alcohol is a big part of culture. You know and so people are gonna enjoy their glass of wine, or beer, whatever is it at night. And so I think it's just a matter of helping people understand why things are happening the way that they are happening. So that they can make a decision for themselves. You know like, us at ADVENT, were not gonna fix everything from the standpoint that if you decide you want to consume a lot of alcohol like we can't, maybe counteract that completely you know that's a factor that plays into it. And so we can certainly prime people for having the best night sleep they can but then there's some decision that's involved. You know certainly from their standpoint, Right?

Although, for the guy or gal who's already sort of getting the elbows, and the glances because they're snoring and may have sleep apnea, now say you're out to dinner with your significant other that you're already annoying and say you've ordered two or three drinks over the course of the dinner then you know what I mean, where is that night headed for you guys? And it's not gonna be pretty. Not likely. Even you both are having a few drinks because you basically your every drink that you take you're telling the person that's sitting next to you like I'm coming after you tonight. Like this is gonna be a bad night for everybody.

Then it leaves a sleep divorce.

Exactly. which is something I think well talk about in a little bit. But yeah, absolutely. It's like the, it's sort of like almost the, I don't know what is that? It's adding, it's pouring salt on that wound. I think.


Which obviously, can't be particularly helpful. But yeah, so I mean bottom line though as far as alcohol, you know anything that relaxes you if you have the tendency towards snoring it's gonna to hurt you that way. Now if you don't have the tendency it will still disrupt your sleep. But if somebody doesn't have the tendency to snore at all then a couple of drinks isn't going to get them to snore. Most people. Many people, I wouldn't say most, Many people, you know, have that tendency to some extent.

Yeah. And then not to get off topic but then you know, we see a lot of patients who are on different kinds of sleep aids.


You know medication, you know whether it's Trazodone, or you know Ambien, or some of these other ones that are out there. And so--


What's your feeling on, you know certainly there are some that are more structured towards trying to keep that normal sleep-wake cycle but then there are some that are more sedatives?


I mean that can have a pretty profound effect too.

Yeah, and all that stuff just sort of jacks up your sleep. Anything you add on board to your system is gonna impact your sleep. Caffeine will do it. The caffeine's the opposite, It's a stimulant but it also dehydrates you. It's just sort of, there are a lot of folks, lots and lots and lots of folks, who medicate either with prescriptions or over the counter. Like a lot of people, have a drink or two for medicinal reasons, and they don't even know that. You know what I mean? Like they know that here, subconsciously, but they're actually taking their medicine when they're having a couple of drinks so like the alcohol will aid in kind of unwinding. It's true, it's a depressant that way. And then well you gotta have caffeine to jack you back. It's just like the perfect storm. Like have a couple drinks, have a crappy night's sleep, wake up in the morning feeling crappy. Hit the caffeine hard to get your system revved up and then rinse and repeat.


Over and over again. That's okay, it's not optimal.

It's fundamental in a lot of peoples lives though.

That's like, that's probably that's a typical, typical you know story. And then, you know, I don't know. We're not here to solve all the world's ills or problems. But it's the core issue there though isn't necessarily the drinks or the caffeine. It's the reality that if you are, if you want to guarantee yourself a horrible night's sleep then compromise your airway. Airway meaning your nose and your throat. Like I can guarantee you, they've even done studies with this, where they take people and they put a little clothes pin on their nose and have them go to sleep. And they have a horrible night's sleep. They snore like crazy, it's miserable. And so absolutely, if you want to compromise your sleep, compromise your airway. If you want to maximize your sleep optimize your sleep, optimize your airway. It's that simple. And so for those who are walking around with compromised airways they tend to do things like I was just saying with medicines and alcohol to try to sort of deal with it whether they know it or not. And so meaning like a lot of people are walking around with clothes pin on their noses like not literally but internally they don't know any better. And so it's absolutely gonna push their buttons.

Well and a lot of those sleep issues are related to, so, nose is stuffy, poor night's sleep, so now your taking a sleep aid to try and get over that hump to get to sleep which is making your sleep worse. And so, you know, even alcohol too I mean obviously people enjoy having drinks and as do I, and you know you go out and maybe have a drink and things like that, that's okay. But it's, you know when you're seeing all people who have trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, plugged up noses, now on sleep medications, that to me is like the perfect patient too. I'm like if we just get your nose working maybe the anxiety you have around trying to fall asleep and waking up and like just not having restful sleep at all assuming you don't have sleep apnea but still struggle.


We can maybe get you off those meds. You know or like hopefully that can be a goal. Right?

Yeah absolutely, absolutely.

From certain sleep apnea I'd just like to return to. Like, we're there almost completely, relaxing, and you know.

Yeah, I mean so sleep apnea so to reiterate I say this all the time but you know everybody that has sleep apnea snores. Not everybody that snores has sleep apnea. So it's a continuum. So if you snore that means your throat's tight and your tissues are vibrating that's where the sound's coming from. If you have sleep apnea things are so tight that they're vibrating and then there are times when it just shuts down back there. I mean that's, so it's a spectrum. So certainly those whose snoring is made worse by sleep apnea. I'm sorry. Those whose snoring is made worse by alcohol that's absolutely gonna happen that way. If you have sleep apnea It's gonna make those issues worse too. If you're not treating it. Now the up side, if you are treating your sleep apnea properly you know properly meaning whether it's a sleep apnea machine or appliance or whatever the case may be doesn't give you license to go to town but in the least you've got something that's gonna be fighting back when you're sleeping at night. If you have untreated sleep apnea and you have a couple of drinks it's physically doing you more harm that night then a typical night for you. The snoring is going to be bad. It's just going to be bad, bad, bad, you know situation.

Yeah it will worsen your sleep apnea. Whatever your baseline is it's going to be worse.

Correct. Yeah make that situation worse.

First published by ADVENT on
October 30, 2019
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ADVENTing: Alcohol & Snoring