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Snoring is a common problem, but one we associated more with older men. Many a young person (especially young women) has been embarrassed to hear that they snored loudly all night, after a visit to the pub! Alcohol both CAUSES SNORING and MAKES SNORING WORSE!

Causes of snoring

There are 4 main causes of snoring:

  • Hereditary: anatomical characteristics of the mouth, nose, and upper airway
  • Nasal problems: such as nasal polyps, deviated septum, allergies, and respiratory tract infections
  • Sleep related: sleep disorders and breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea

Things that make snoring worse

There are 2 main culprits:

  • Sleep position: sleeping on your back is known to make snoring worse and some people only snore when they sleep flat on their backs with their mouths open.

Why alcohol makes snoring worse

Alcohol makes snoring worse – in both men and women, of all ages!

Even young people who don’t normally snore at all, and who have no other anatomical or other issues that cause snoring, can snore loudly after heavy drinking, or drinking just before bedtime.

To understand why alcohol promotes snoring, it’s necessary to understand what snoring is: snoring is the sound we hear when air flows past relaxed tissues in the throat, the roof of your mouth and tongue. The passage of air makes these tissues vibrate. The more relaxed these tissues, the more they vibrate. If the mouth is open (due to nasal breathing issues, apnea and sleep position), the throat tissues will be more relaxed, and the snoring will be louder.

Alcohol does two things that make snoring more likely and louder:

  • Alcohol relaxes the throat and mouth tissues more than normal
  • Alcohol exacerbates existing causes of snoring – turning a soft snore into a loud snore

Snoring is often unavoidable. Unless it is very bad and disruptive, it’s not too much of a problem. But knowing that you snore after drinking alcohol can help you avoid it. Sleep on your side, or better yet – don’t drink to excess or before bed.