Alcohol and Sleeping Pills

Alcohol and Sleeping Pills

Alcohol travels to all areas of the body and slows the brain's responses, causing the muscles to relax even more than during a normal night's sleep. Alcohol also acts as a depressant. The added relaxation of the musculature causes the oropharynx to collapse more readily causing further snoring. Additionally alcohol can induce obstructive sleep apnoea (where breathing stops for short periods during sleep) in individuals who are otherwise just snorers. This does not mean that you have 'clinically recognised sleep apnoea' but, when you have been drinking alcohol and your sleep is interrupted by periods of not breathing, you should be aware that if you do not modify your lifestyle, this condition will worsen. It is very much more difficult to treat sleep apnoea than it is to treat simple snoring.

Alcohol also causes nasal airway irritation and congestion that increases the airway resistance when breathing. The consumption of alcohol affects every organ and system in the body. It can damage heart tissue and elevate blood pressure. It also has a high calorie content, and people who are heavy drinkers are often overweight.

If you cannot stop drinking you can modify the effects by having your last drink at least 4 hours before you go to bed. This will give your body sufficient time to reduce the effects of the alcohol and help you to sleep without snoring.

Whilst most people have sufficient muscle tone to prevent the airway from collapsing during sleep this situation may alter if you are taking sedatives. So, if you are taking any medication that has a sedating effect, ask your doctor for a non-sedating alternative. Naturally, you should never stop taking prescribed medicines without your doctor's consent.

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