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Breathing problem & irregular heart beat during sleep after consuming alcohol. What causes this?

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in the past few weeks after a nights drinking for the next few days when i try to sleep just before i drift of i jump up gasping for air as if my heart stops beating and i stop breathing whats the cause of this
Tue, 17 Jul 2012 in Sleep Disorders
Answered by Dr. Abhijeet Deshmukh, 7 hours later

Thanks for your query,

Your symptoms may suggest a possibility of Sleep Apnea. This is a condition where your breathing actually stops for a period of more than 10 seconds. Because breathing is needed for a regular flow of oxygen to the brain cells, a pause in breathing will indicate to the brain that enough oxygen is not reaching its cells. Once the alarm is triggered, the brain centers for respiration (breathing) will compensate for it by increasing the breathing efforts and also by increasing the heart rate (so that more blood is pumped to the brain for more oxygen until a regular breathing is resumed).

Sleep Apnea needs to be evaluated with the help of a sleep specialist. You may also benefit from a 24 hours sleep study, which can identify any problems in your sleep pattern.

Drinking Alcohol can suppress the brain activity, which can in turn increase the chances of sleep apnea. Reducing the quantity of the drinks might help you reduce such episodes.

Hope this reply has help with your query. Do contact me again if you need more information. Take care.

Abhijeet Deshmukh, MD

[Disclaimer: This post is meant for the purpose of information only. The post is not intended to give a diagnosis or a medical advice. This post is not an attempt to establish a doctor-patient relationship or replace an existing one.]

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