People with Apnea More Vulnerable to Effects of Alcohol

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October 12, 2009

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It is clear that drinking and driving is dangerous, but what happens when you throw in a life-threatening sleep disorder like sleep apnea ? It is possible patients with sleep apnea are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than those without the disorder, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine .

The study was conducted at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health in Australia. Researchers followed 38 untreated sleep apnea patients and 20 control participants. The participants were either allowed to sleep unrestricted, restricted to four hours, or ingest enough vodka to achieve a blood alcohol level of 0.05 g/dL. They then took part in a driving simulator. The simulator measured steering deviation, crashes, and braking reaction time.

The study found that patients with sleep apnea experiences a 40 percent increase in steering deviation compared with the control group. This was especially true after restricted sleep or alcohol consumption.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, the first thing to do is see your doctor or find a sleep professional .