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How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea  Affected by a Hangover?

February 22, 2022


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is made worse by so many things. And the idea that alcohol could ruin your sleep is not new. This blog is not a lecture on not drinking, but more of an examination of those times when you indulge just a little too much. 

Let’s look at what happens to someone suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea when they drink too much, and then when they are suffering from a hangover. 

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is when your throat muscles repeatedly relax and block airways during sleep. When the soft tissues in your throat, such as your tongue and soft palate, temporarily relax your airway is narrowed or closed, and breathing is momentarily cut off.

For more on OSA, please read this: What is Sleep Apnea and How Can I Relieve Its Symptoms? 

What causes a hangover? 

The obvious answer is drinking too much, but according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction, the following are the exact culprits of your hangover:  


Alcohol plays tricks on your kidneys causing you to lose excess fluids. Drinking more water can usually help to relieve symptoms. 

Lack of Sleep 

People may fall asleep faster after drinking alcohol, but their sleep is fragmented, and they tend to wake up earlier. 

Stomach Ache

Alcohol directly irritates the lining of the stomach and increases acid release. This can lead to nausea and stomach discomfort.

Acetaldehyde exposure 

Alcohol metabolism, primarily by the liver, creates the compound acetaldehyde, a toxic, short-lived byproduct, which contributes to inflammation in the liver, pancreas, brain, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

Inflammation appears to create a malaise, a kind of tired sadness and discomfort that often occurs when hungover. 

How Alcohol Makes Obstructive Sleep Apnea Worse

Alcohol relaxes all the muscles in your body, including the tongue. 

“Alcohol decreases your drive to breathe, slowing your breathing and making your breaths shallow. In addition, it may relax the muscles of your throat, which may make it more likely for your upper airway to collapse. This may contribute to both snoring, which represents the vibration of the soft tissues, to complete obstruction that occurs in sleep apnea.”(VeryWellHealth.com)

The longer-term effects

As OSA sufferers well know, a routine is key to helping you get the best night’s sleep. When that routine is thrown off, it can be difficult to get back on track. 

One night of sleeping after drinking too much often leads to the second night of difficult sleep due to the hangover. Now, your routine is thrown and sleep is hard to come by. 

While we have some recommendations for getting your sleep back on track (find those here: https://advancedhomecareonline.com/how-to-get-sleep-back-on-track/), the best recommendation we have is to simply limit your alcohol intake. 


If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, you may experience more intense symptoms of jet lag. At Advanced Homecare, our team of sleep specialists is committed to providing the best sleep apnea supplies and guidance to help you sleep well – even during long-distance travel. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative products and services. 

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