Does Alcohol Cause Snoring or Make it Worse?

A lot of people will tell you alcohol causes snoring. Alcohol also has the ability to accentuate an existing problem with snoring and make it worse. So, does alcohol cause snoring?

Alcohol and snoring
Men drinking alcohol – their partners are in for a snore-fest

Does Alcohol Cause Snoring

If you currently snore and alcohol is a big part of your life, this may not be something you want to hear.

Perhaps you landed on this page hoping to belay your fears and find out there is no relationship between alcohol and snoring at all. If so, bad luck. This site deals in facts, it doesn’t try to placate you by telling you the things you want to hear.

However, it’s not all bad news. Although drinking alcohol can influence snoring, there is no need to ban it from your life entirely. So don’t rush out and sign the pledge just yet.

Total abstinence may not be necessary, but if you are serious about doing something about stopping snoring, some lifestyle changes may be on the cards. 

So, if you came here wanting to find out if alcohol may be causing you to snore, you have your answer. I’ve given it to you short and sweet.

You can go now if you want to. Stick around if you want to learn how your drinking habits can set off that nasty rasping noise in your throat.

How Alcohol Affects the Body and Makes Snoring Likely

Alcohol affects the mind and body in many ways. Some people take a drink to help them relax. Others use alcohol to overcome their inhibitions and gain “Dutch courage” and, let’s face it, as a social lubricant, alcohol takes some beating.

When consumed in moderation, most people get along with alcohol just fine. However, heavy drinking can present many problems. Apart from slurring the speech, it can induce blackouts and hallucinations, damage the liver, and even shrink the brain.

Hopefully, you won’t be drinking that much but even a small quantity of alcohol is enough to make some people snore. 

The intoxicating effects of alcohol usually kick-in quite fast. Often within 15 minutes of beginning to drink. It doesn’t matter whether you drink wine, spirits, or beer.

Although stronger drinks pack more of a punch and can floor you more quickly, less potent options hit you as fast.

When alcohol hits your system, the liver goes to work and starts purging it from your body. It can only process a limited amount of alcohol per hour so, as you continue to drink, the level of intoxication increases.

When you stop drinking, the liver plods on with its task but it can take it up to 14 hours to purge the last traces of alcohol from your blood. 

Why is this important? How does it relate to snoring? Among other things, alcohol is a muscle relaxant. That’s part of the reason why drinking too much can make you go wobbly at the knees.

Alcohol relaxes all the muscles in the body, including the ones at the back of the throat. When the throat muscles relax, they begin to sag. This can cause the type of airway obstruction that sets off that buzz saw in your throat.

How Alcohol Affects Sleep

Alcohol may help you to drift off to sleep more easily, but you may want to forgo a “nightcap” because it’s more of a foe than a friend.

Alcohol consumption does not support the right quality of sleep. Its presence in your system can interfere with your ability to reach an important sleep stage known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement). REM is the deep sleep stage where it becomes possible to dream.

When you fail to get a sufficient level of REM sleep, you are apt to awake full of fatigue. As well as making you feel unwell and out of sorts, lack of REM sleep also affects concentration, memory, and motor skills.

By influencing snoring, alcohol can also keep your partner awake (if you have one) and prevent them from getting enough REM sleep too. 

The Relationship Between Snoring and Alcohol

If you haven’t skipped through the earlier parts of this article you will be aware alcohol relaxes the muscles at the back of the throat. Now’s a good time to look at this in a little more detail.

When alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and causes them to sag, it forces you to pull air into your lungs through a partially blocked airway. This increases “respiratory resistance” making it harder to breathe

It’s normal for respiratory resistance to increase during sleep, due to factors such as gravity and bodyweight. The problem with alcohol is, it increases respiratory resistance even more.

For the average person, respiratory resistance often doubles during sleep. In the case of a person who snores, respiratory resistance can increase by up to four times.

That’s a significant increase. However, throw alcohol into the equation and respiratory resistance can increase by up to eight times. It’s all that relaxed muscle that causes the problem and the problem will remain until your liver has had enough time to clean-up your blood. 

How to Control Alcohol Consumption and Snoring

If alcohol is making you snore or making your normal snoring worse, the best thing you can do is knock “the drink” on the head. There is a good chance this is no something you will not  want to do.

As with many things, moderation is the key. It doesn’t have to be a case of all or nothing. 

If you are going to drink, try to take your last drink several hours before going to bed. It’s not just a matter of timing though. You will also need to limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

Remember, your liver may have to spend many hours playing catch-up if pump too much alcohol into your blood.

Obviously, one way to reduce your alcohol intake is to drink fewer alcoholic drinks. However, if you normally drink spirits or other beverages that have a high alcohol content by volume, you could also dilute your drinks or switch to less potent alternatives.

Unfortunately, there is no way you can have your cake and eat it. If you want to continue enjoying alcohol but don’t want to carry on snoring, some lifestyle changes will be necessary.

Does Alcohol Cause Snoring – Summary

This article confirms what you probably already knew. Alcohol does cause snoring – and makes an existing snorers problem even worse.

So, if you find it difficult to stop drinking altogether then at least cut back on consumption. Your partner will thank you and so will your liver.