Men who habitually consume alcohol more likely to have a sleep-related breathing disorder

April 15, 2007

WESTCHESTER, Ill. -- Increased usual alcohol consumption among men is associated with an increased risk of a mild or worse sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD), according to a study published in the April 15th issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM).

The study, authored by Paul E. Peppard, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, focused on 775 men and 645 women, who were evaluated for alcohol consumption and a sleep-related breathing disorder. It was discovered that, relative to men who consumed less alcohol, for each increment of one drink per day, men who consumed more alcohol had 25 percent greater odds of a mild or worse SRBD.

Among women, minimal to moderate alcohol consumption was not significantly associated with an increased risk of an SRBD. According to Peppard, possible explanations for this include the limited range of alcohol consumption reported by women in the study sample, reducing the ability to detect clinically important moderate associations. Alternatively, added Peppard, women may be more resistant than men to threats to nocturnal respiratory stability. Such protection may be due to hormonally-mediated increased ventilatory drive, anatomical differences or other characteristics that may provide general protection for women from events of an SRBD, noted Peppard, adding that women, for example, appear to require relatively greater increases in body mass to demonstrate weight-related increments in an SRBD compared to men.

"Experimental evidence is fairly consistent in demonstrating acute effects of alcohol exposure on initiating or exacerbating an SRBD, perhaps by reducing upper airway patency via reduced dilatory muscle tone, or by blunted ventilatory response to hypoxia," said Peppard. "Based on the previous experimental evidence, men and women with an SRBD, or those particularly susceptible to an SRBD, should be advised to avoid alcohol near bedtime."
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JCSM is the official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). It contains published papers related to the clinical practice of sleep medicine, including original manuscripts such as clinical trials, clinical reviews, clinical commentary and debate, medical economic/practice perspectives, case series and novel/interesting case reports.

SleepEducation.com, a Web site maintained by the AASM, provides information about the various sleep disorders that exist, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.

For a copy of this article, entitled, "Association of Alcohol Consumption and Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Men and Women", or to arrange an interview with an AASM spokesperson regarding this study, please contact Jim Arcuri, public relations coordinator, at (708)492-0930, ext. 9317, or jarcuri@aasmnet.org.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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