Whether it’s one too many toasts to the season or a crutch to help cope with complicated family dynamics, for many the holidays bring on excess drinking and excess drinking can lead to snoring. We’re often asked about the connection between alcohol and snoring when doing an initial consult for sleep apnea diagnosis. Here’s a breakdown of the effect alcohol has on snoring and why curtailing your consumption around bedtime helps.

Alcohol causes the muscles in the throat to relax which decreases your natural ability to ward off airway obstructions. The physiology behind this connection between alcohol and snoring is explained well on The Mayo Clinic website, “When you doze off and progress from a light sleep to a deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate. And, the more narrowed your airway, the more forceful the airflow becomes. This causes tissue vibration to increase, which causes your snoring to grow louder.”

Essentially, the only fix is to try reducing alcohol consumption in the afternoon or evening, or potentially eliminating it altogether. Not exactly what most people want to hear, particularly around the holidays. But here’s the catch… your snoring, even if exacerbated by alcohol, could be the sign of a deeper problem that could get worse as you age. So, before you start teetotaling make an appointment with a sleep dentist or orthodontist to have a full evaluation. Your sleep dentist can help evaluate on an individual basis if the connection between alcohol and snoring for you, personally,  is indicative of sleep apnea and should be treated. As quick visit to your sleep dentist can put your mind at ease,  help you plan for a future of healthy sleeping uninterrupted by snoring, and allow you a guilt-free toast to the new year!