Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

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Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

Posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022 at 4:05 pm    

Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

Many people like to have a drink before bed. They believe it relaxes them and helps them sleep. But does it? More recent studies have shown that the “relaxing glass of wine” may be doing more harm than good. Not only could it be making it harder to get a good night’s sleep, but it could also be making you so relaxed that you sleep too deeply.

Alcohol and Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced by your body that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin production increases when it gets dark and decreases when it’s light. Drinking alcohol up to an hour before your regular bedtime can reduce your melatonin production by up to 19 percent. Lowered melatonin levels lead to restless sleep, which leads to fatigue and sleepiness the next day.

Alcohol and Relaxation

It is true that alcohol relaxes your muscles. That can be a good thing if you’re tense. It can be a bad thing if your body needs to wake up. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. This means that it tends to slow your breathing. If your breathing becomes too slow, as it might with sleep apnea, your body tries to wake you up to start breathing normally again. Under the effect of a depressant, like alcohol, you may be too relaxed to wake up quickly.

This cyclical effect leads to prolonged apnea events, increasing the effect of sleep apnea and making you feel even more unrested the next day.

Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

There is a connection between alcohol and sleep apnea, although doctors are not sure what it is. It does not appear that drinking causes obstructive sleep apnea, but the effects of excessive alcohol use can create conditions that lead to sleep apnea.

Because alcohol relaxes the muscles, drinking too much before sleeping will relax the upper throat muscles, causing them to collapse backward into the airway. This is the primary cause of obstructive sleep apnea. The effect can be worsened by alcohol’s tendency to relax all muscles, making waking up more difficult.

Weight gain is associated with excessive drinking and with obstructive sleep apnea in a negative feedback loop: as you gain more weight, your sleep apnea will become worse, leading to daytime lethargy and increasing weight gain.

In general, if you have difficulty sleeping or believe you have sleep apnea, you should avoid drinking less than three hours before bedtime.

Treatment for Alcohol-Related Breathing Problems

If you believe you have sleep apnea related to late-night drinking, don’t despair. The first step is to see the experienced Silent Night Therapy sleep team for a complimentary review of your sleep habits and lifestyle. Relief from your poor sleep could be as simple as adjusting your nightly routine and losing a few pounds.

The next thing our team will do is determine whether you have sleep apnea, either through a home sleep study or by sending you to a sleep clinic for a night’s examination. Our doctors will determine the best course of treatment after a thorough review. Give us a call at 631-983-2463, and we’ll help you get on the road to a restful night’s sleep.


Narcolepsy vs. Sleep Apnea

Posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2022 at 3:33 pm    

Narcolepsy vs. Sleep Apnea

If you find yourself falling asleep during the day, even if you got a night’s sleep, you could be suffering from one of a number of sleep disturbances. It’s never a good sign to be tired during the day, especially if you need to drive or work. If you’re really getting a good night’s sleep, why are you falling asleep in the middle of the afternoon?

Sleep Apnea and Narcolepsy

Of the three types of sleep apnea, the one that is the most common cause of daytime sleepiness is obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse, blocking your upper airway. When your airway is blocked, your body wakes up, sometimes so briefly you don’t even notice it. These interruptions in your sleep can happen as often as 30 times an hour. Waking up every couple of minutes, even if you fall immediately back to sleep, is not good for your sleep.

Narcolepsy is a rare neurological disorder. Only about 1 in 2,000 people have narcolepsy. That’s between 135,000 and 200,000 people nationwide. Narcolepsy is believed to affect the brain’s control of the sleep-wake cycle. People with narcolepsy can suddenly fall asleep during the day, even in the middle of a task. They also experience interrupted sleep, with vivid dreams called hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and nightmares.

It appears that sleep apnea and narcolepsy are unrelated. Although about 25% of people with narcolepsy experience sleep apnea, it does not appear that sleep apnea causes narcolepsy. The two disorders have different causes and different treatments.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea and Narcolepsy

If you’re experiencing daytime sleepiness, restless sleep, or other symptoms that could indicate either sleep apnea or narcolepsy, you should see a sleep apnea specialist who can help you determine what is going on. Dr. Clifford Brown is a member of the Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorder Disciplines, so he will know what questions to ask and what tests to use to determine whether you have sleep apnea or another sleep disturbance.

The best way to tell the two disorders apart is a sleep study. The study will reveal the levels of various hormones and oxygen in your bloodstream before and after you sleep. This will help determine the exact cause of your sleep disturbance.

People with narcolepsy may lack a brain chemical called hypocretin. Normal levels of this chemical would indicate your sleep problem is more likely to be sleep apnea, whereas low levels of hypocretin indicate narcolepsy. Medical tests can confirm this diagnosis.

If Dr. Brown finds that you have sleep apnea, then your treatment can continue at Silent Night Therapy. We can fit you with an oral appliance to realign your jaw and prevent your throat from becoming obstructed during sleep. Our team will advise you on other steps you can take to sleep soundly and avoid daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

Contact Silent Night Therapy Today

Call our office at 631-983-2463 for your complimentary consultation about your daytime sleepiness and nightly restlessness. We’re here to diagnose your problems and help you get more restful sleep.