Why mixing alcohol with a sleep disorder is dangerous

Using alcohol when you have a sleep disorder is not recommended because it could be fatal. This is especially true if you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea which is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person stops breathing during sleep. This can happen as often as several hundred times during sleep. Loud snoring is a warning sign that you may have sleep apnea.

If you have sleep apnea, you are not aware of this difficulty breathing, even when awakened. Sleep apnea is usually noticed by others who notice these episodes while you are sleeping. Symptoms may be present for years or even decades without being identified. You may have become use to the daytime fatigue and sleepiness which is associated with any sleep disorder.

Sleep apnea causes the throat to collapse during sleep, blocking the airway and stopping air from getting to the lungs. Usually your throat muscles keep the throat and airway open.

Causes of an obstructed airway include the shape of the head and neck, large tonsils or adenoids, excess weight or obesity or abnormally relaxed throat or tongue muscles.
Because alcohol can abnormally relax throat muscles and tongue, you may not start breathing again. And this is the reason that anyone who suffers from sleep disorders, should not be drinking heavily, if any at all.

A CPAP machine is one form of treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP machine blows pressurized air into a mask which is worn over the nose and this keeps the airway open during sleep. This is the most common long-term treatment for severe sleep apnea.

Oral devices such as dental appliances open the sleeper’s airway by bringing the lower jaw and tongue forward while sleeping. Two oral devices are the Tongue Retaining Device and the Mandibular Repositioning Device.

Surgical removal of excess tissues such as adenoids, tonsils, or any tissue inside the nose or any tissue at the back of the throat increases the size of the which allows better airflow while sleeping.

So, you can see why alcohol and a sleep disorder do not mix as the level of carbon monoxide in the brain could be so much that you will not breathe on your own. This is also why it is extremely important to see your doctor if you or anyone in your family suspects that you might have sleep apnea. This is a serious medical problem that needs to be taken care of as quickly as possible.