February 15, 2019
After a long day of work and a busy evening at home, drinking an alcoholic beverage may serve as a form of relaxation. However, for people suffering from sleep apnea in Weatherford, could this further contribute to the problem? An expert in sleep dentistry weighs in to answer that question and to explain what sleep apnea is.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Have you been told you’re a loud snorer? If so, you could be suffering from sleep apnea, which refers to frequent pauses in your breathing while you rest at night. These lapses cause the brain to send alert messages that awaken you repeatedly throughout the night.
Thus, you can be left feeling lethargic the next day, after what should have been an adequate amount of sleep. Here are some of the other symptoms you may notice:
- Decreased libido
- Inability to focus
Along with these changes, your health can greatly be compromised when you don’t get the proper amount and quality of rest needed.
How Alcohol Consumption Affects the Sleep Cycle
While alcohol may seem to go hand-in-hand with the process of sleeping since it’s considered to be a depressant, it can actually be a hindrance to your nightly sleep-cycle for three reasons.
#1 – Prevents REM Sleep
The coveted level of slumber that contributes to maintaining excellent health is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. At this stage, the body produces more growth hormone (to rejuvenate the mind and body), prolactin (to fortify the immune system) and many other health-supporting hormones.
Alcohol consumption before bed, though, limits the chances of getting to this phase of sleep.
#2 – Interrupts Natural Sleep Patterns
The human body contains a natural clock that tells it when to sleep and to awaken, which is called its circadian rhythm. Consuming alcohol before bed has been found to throw-off the timing of this internal intelligence and to further decrease the chances of you getting sufficient rest.
#3 – Makes Breathing Problems Worse
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which involves a partial blockage of the airway that makes it harder to breathe while you sleep. Studies have found that drinking alcohol can exacerbate the situation by further contributing to the relaxation and collapse of the throat muscles.
Are There any Alternatives?
The good news is you don’t have to completely abstain from drinking alcohol. Instead, some slight adjustments can make a significant difference. You can start by expanding the time between drinking your last alcoholic beverage and retiring for bed.
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to practice moderation. By cutting back on the quantity of alcohol you consume, you have a better chance of getting the valuable sleep your body desperately needs.
Along with making some adjustments based on what you’ve learned, you should be sure to reach out to your local sleep dentist to get the professional therapy you need to recover from sleep apnea.
By being proactive, you can rest better and remain as healthy as possible.
About the Author
A graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry, Dr. Deborah A. Romack has over two decades of experience practicing dentistry. Specializing in providing sleep dentistry, she has taken continuing education courses covering such treatment areas as airway obstruction, snoring, OSA and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS). Dr. Romack helps patients sleep better at Weatherford Dental Sleep Medicine, and she can be reached for more information through her website.
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