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Living with Sleep Apnea: Why You Should Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

November 23, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — sleepbetterchicagoland @ 9:30 pm
an image of alcohol being poured into a glass

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s not unheard of to reach for a bottle of wine to help you wind down after an exhausting day of hosting family and friends. While the delectable taste of your favorite spirit may seem like the perfect way to relax and eventually enjoy a good night’s rest, the truth is if you suffer from sleep apnea, you could be sabotaging your body’s ability to breathe easily throughout the night. A local dentist shares why alcohol and sleep apnea are not meant to mix and what you should do to ensure you get the sleep you need, especially during the holiday season.

Why is Alcohol Before Bed Not a Good Idea?

There are actually many reasons why consuming your favorite wine, scotch, bourbon, whiskey, or other alcoholic beverage is not the best idea before going to bed. If you are living with sleep apnea, not only can these libations worsen your condition by causing the muscles in your throat to relax, resulting in a collapsed or potentially blocked upper airway, but it can also decrease your body’s ability to adequately breathe.

Not to mention, alcohol can cause your blood oxygen levels to drop, leading to more carbon dioxide in the body. This condition, known as hypercapnia, can be fatal in severe cases.

While drinking too much alcohol before bed may cause you to become extremely sleepy, you will likely enter into a deeper state of sleep early on. Once the alcohol has fully metabolized (later in the night), there is a higher chance you will continuously wake and be unable to achieve adequate rest. You may also experience headaches, insomnia, or even night sweats.

Ways to Have a Happy Holiday Without Losing Sleep

When surrounded by family and friends, you may wish to indulge in a glass of wine or your favorite bourbon as part of the festivities. If you choose to do so, there are a few things you should remember to ensure you still get the sleep you need during the holidays:

  • Make sure to bring your oral appliance with you when traveling. This will ensure you have the right equipment to breathe freely while asleep.
  • Finish your last glass of alcohol at least three hours before going to bed.
  • Don’t overindulge. Instead, opt for 1-2 glasses per day.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your salivary glands working at an optimal level and prevent your body from becoming dehydrated.
  • Don’t stay up too late. While you may be tempted to engage in a rousing game of Monopoly with your family, try to abide by your normal bedtime to avoid hindering your regular sleep patterns.

By following these suggestions and being mindful of your alcohol intake, you can spend the holidays well rested and enjoying time with those you love.

About the Author
Dr. David B. Schwartz received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Indiana University. He also earned an additional bachelor’s degree in dentistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. After graduating, he continued at the same university to receive his DDS degree. Dr. Schwartz is a diplomate to the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, and he has been a practicing dentist since 1988. As one of the nation’s foremost experts on dental sleep, he readily provides his patients with tips to improve sleep apnea as well as what they should avoid to ensure a proper night’s rest. To learn more about Dr. Schwartz and how he can help you get the sleep you need, contact us at (847) 677-2808.

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