Does alcohol make you snore? The truth is it can but there is nothing to say that it will. Though, of course, a heavy drinking session is more likely to cause snoring than drinking a small glass of wine or a single can of beer before you go to bed.
Many people have a problem with snoring after they have been drinking alcohol. It’s a very common problem that often goes hand-in-hand with bruised ribs.
This is a condition that may be especially painful if your partner has particularly hard and pointy elbows.
Not surprisingly, if you have one, your sleep partner is likely to be the first person to let you know you have a problem with snoring.
Hopefully, they will do so via a quiet conversation instead of using their elbows. However, if you snore very loudly, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
What Will I Learn?
How Alcohol Affects Your Snoring
Many people end their day with a small (or not so small) “nightcap.” However, although alcohol can be good for making you drowsy, as a sleeping draught it’s not a particularly good option.
Drinking alcohol can cause or worsen snoring and may interfere with your breathing during sleep.
The combination of drinking too much and being overweight is a great recipe for snoring problems.
1. It Relaxes You In Ways You Don’t Want
Alcohol makes you feel drowsy because it has a sedating effect. It’s also a depressant.
Because it sedates you and makes you feel sleepy, many people believe alcoholic beverages are ideal as a last drink of the day. Sadly this is not so.
However, some research suggests drinking non-alcoholic beer before bed may help you to drop off faster and enjoy a better quality of sleep.
The problem with alcohol is it can relax you in areas that are best not affected in this way. Some of which are necessary for breathing.
If you drink alcohol and then go to bed, the presence of the alcohol in your blood may overly relax the muscles of your throat and jaw. This causes the muscles to sag and restrict your airways. When alcohol does this it makes you start snoring.
Unfortunately, it can get worse.
The airway blockages alcohol causes also have the potential to cause mild sleep apnea. This is a condition that stops your breathing for brief periods of time while you are asleep.
You may not be surprised to learn sleep apnea can present certain dangers including heart attacks and death.
2. It Dehydrates You
The other problem with alcohol is it dehydrates you. The “hangovers” many people experience the day after a drinking session often occur for this reason.
Apart from causing you to wake up with a banging head, the dehydration alcohol causes can also cause the muscles of your mouth and throat to become overly dry. Mouth breathing and snoring – a wonderful combination!
3. It Messes with Your Natural Sleep Patterns
After alcohol passes through the walls of your intestines it gets picked up by the blood and is transported around your body. When it reaches your brain it wreaks havoc with your normal sleep patterns.
When you have alcohol in your blood you are less likely to reach an important state of deep-sleep called REM.
REM is an acronym. It stands for rapid eye movements. All of the dreaming you do while sleeping occurs during REM. If you don’t spend enough time in the REM stage of sleep you will wake up feeling tired and grouchy instead of feeling refreshed.
Can You Avoid Alcohol-Related Snoring?
Avoiding alcohol-related snoring is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is stop drinking alcohol—especially just before going to bed.
Apart from reducing the likelihood of snoring, abstaining from alcohol may also help you to sleep more soundly and wake up feeling extra refreshed.
If you want to continue enjoying alcohol, and there’s a good chance that you do, you will have to accept all the bruised ribs and protests about your snoring. However, there’s a lot to be said to restricting your drinking sessions to only one day per week.
Other steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of alcohol-induced snoring include:
- Avoiding drinking any alcohol within three hours of going to bed.
- Drink your alcohol alongside a meal.
- Keep within the recommended guidelines. That’s no more than two drinks per day if you are a man and only one if you are a woman.
- Go for options that contain lower percentages of alcohol.
- Sleep on your side instead of on your back. This may help keep your airways open.
Suggestions for Alternative Methods to Relax Before Going to Bed
A nightcap is not the only way to relax before going to bed. Some people swear by chamomile tea. It’s also possible to buy special herbal tea infusions that are specifically designed to calm the mind and support restful sleep.
Taking a warm bath before bed can also help you to wind-down and get a better quality of sleep. So can reading a book. However, it’s best to avoid options that are overly exciting or intense. In this case, boring is best.
Other good options include:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation techniques
- Drinking a can of alcohol-free beer
The Bottom Line
When you drink alcohol before going to bed, it may make you start snoring. If you normally snore anyway, drinking alcohol could make it worse.
If you are a heavy drinker, it’s also worth bearing in mind the fact that your present lifestyle may affect your health and well-being in a number of negative ways.
Apart from influencing snoring, alcohol can upset your stomach, ruin your sex life, damage your liver, or cause many other health issues you do not want.
If you presently rely on alcohol to help you to sleep or believe you may have a drinking problem, there are agencies and charities that can help. Your doctor should be able to advise you on the best options available in your area.