Alcohol and Snoring

Alcohol and snoring are made for each other.

So let's have a little chat about the effects of alcohol on sleep and snoring. First we'll start with some important differences between breathing while awake and breathing while you sleep.

When you are awake, you breathe and react to increased oxygen demands by breathing harder (more effort) and by taking longer, deeper breaths. Naturally, you try less hard and not so long when you are doing undemanding things (say, sitting and reading).

Individually, we have a certain measurable mechanical resistance to getting air into our lungs. That's called "inspiratory resistance". That's what our breathing muscles work against. The air-hole isn't huge, so there's some friction, and the chest has weight and some resistance to motion or expansion, due to the tissue.

When we sleep, demand for oxygen goes down and the resistance to getting the air into the lungs goes up a bit (less than double for most people). Mostly we take longer breaths to compensate, if we need to.

What if you snore?

Ah. Well snorers are a special breed. They(we) have roughly the same inspiratory resistance while awake, but once asleep, a snorer has four (4) times the inspiratory resistance that a non-snorer does.

You are pulling hard to get air in... all night, every night, just because you are a snorer. And the study that came up with that sort of info was done on college-age people. It's only worse if you're older.

Then you add alcohol

Yes, then you add alcohol. This is about alcohol and snoring after all.

Just a wee drink - say two or three martinis, or half a bottle of wine (your girl drank the other half) with dinner, and your sleeping inspiratory resistance doubles.

If you are a habitual snorer, that's now eight (8) times greater than the inspiratory resistance of the non-snorer (on a regular night with no alcohol). The alcohol encourages even some non-snorers to take up snoring for the night.

A harder pull is a louder snore

You've got it. The more resistance (basically meaning that the pipe has gotten smaller) the faster/harder the same amount of air must flow to get through. The more vigorous the flow - while your throat bits are all soft and flappy with sleep and alcohol - the more those bits vibrate in that breeze. The vibration is snoring.

So the long and the short of this whole thing is that consuming alcohol generally makes snoring worse. It makes borderline non-snorers into snorers for the night, and it makes habitual snorers into really, really bad snorers. Alcohol and snoring - hoo-boy! Break out the earplugs and have the defibrillator standing by.

And the answer is?

We think you know. If it's important to not snore, especially to not snore a lot and not snore loudly, then either avoid the alcohol or else stop your imbibing reasonably early in the evening. You want to clear as much as possible from your system before you go to bed. We've established that alcohol and snoring are not a good mix. We already knew that snoring-and-other-people is not a good mix... and at least a couple of our other pages, here at MHT, establish that snoring and health don't go together.

So, after an evening with alcohol, I'll just stay up late

Nah! We just wish. But another cause of snoring is being overtired... lack of sleep.

Yes, that's correct - you can't win.

We're giving you the information here about alcohol and snoring so you can make your own decisions.

If you expect to be having a drink or ten, then make arrangements beforehand to sleep where your snoring won't bother other folks. But do realize that your choice of the alcohol and snoring combo is hurting you, especially if your snoring (likely) includes sleep apnea.

Nothing else to do?

Maybe... If your snoring has another cause, that you can remove, then the alcohol becomes less of a factor.

See our other Snoring-related pages for some of the usual suspects. Chances are, you won't like the answers much better than the "avoid the alcohol" answer, but take a look anyway. There are some stopgap measures that have helped a lot of people with snoring and apnea problems.

Quick Links to all our Snoring-related pages

Here's the handy selection of our snoring related pages on this Men's Health Tips (MHT) site:

The MHT page What the page is about

Intro page about snoring and apnea

How and why snoring and apnea happen, and how you can eliminate them

Why do people snore

What brings on the trumpeting of the night

Sleep Apnea

How your annoying snoring can turn deadly

Smoking and Snoring intro

Something makes you snore - if it's not the cigarettes you smoke that causes it, then the smoke makes it worse.

Alcohol and Snoring intro

Something makes you snore - if it's not the alcohol you drink that causes it, then the alcohol makes it worse.

Obesity Causes Snoring

Something makes you snore - if you are very overweight, then that all by itself is the primary cause (made worse by smoking and drinking).

Obesity Causes Snoring - FIX IT!

You are overweight and you snore (or worse, suffer apnea)? LOSE the LARD, NOW!

Dairy and Snoring

Consuming the juice of the moo-cow is likely not the primary cause, but it contributes.

Confident that surgery is the cure?

Surgeons are always so sure that their skill at slicing pieces out of you is the solution to your snoring problem. Maybe, maybe not.

CPAP - snoring and apnea prevention by forced-air

Appliances that push air in your face all night.

Snoring and apnea prevention straps (this page)

Straps and lifts and other harnesses that help with snoring.

Snoring prevention mouth-pieces

Anti-snoring appliances that work from inside your mouth.

Snoring prevention nose-pieces

Anti-snoring appliances that work from inside or outside your nose.

Snoring prevention pillows

Anti-snoring pillows that keep your head, neck, and jaw out of snoring position.

Snoring prevention sprays

Anti-snoring sprays that work inside your throat.

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If this page wasn't where you wanted to be, then from this 'alcohol and snoring' page, go back to the home page.

Or, return to the snoring section intro page page where we have a table of links to all the other snoring-related pages in this section of MHT.

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