Not too surprisingly, regular use of the recreational drug ecstacy was found to significantly raise the risk of sleep apnea in young, healthy volunteers. Researchers found that this drug affects deep sleep muscle tone and brain neurotransmitters, leading to more frequent obstructions.
Ecstacy is illegal, but there’s one common and very legal drug that’s just as bad in aggravating sleep apnea: alcohol. Anything that causes muscle relaxation or depresses the nervous system will lead to obstructions. This is why people snore more after having a nightcap, or if they take a muscle relaxing sedative medication.
Worse yet, many people use alcohol as a sleep aid, since they’re too wound up or stressed to fall asleep. Yes, alcohol does make you more drowsy, but once you’re asleep, you’ll stop breathing more often. Due to poor quality sleep, you’ll feel even more stressed by the end of the day. Thinking you’ll sleep better, you have your nightcap and the vicious cycle starts all over again. Over the long term, poor quality sleep leads to weight gain, which aggravates sleep apnea even further.
This begs the question: Does regular ecstacy use cause sleep apnea, or are people with sleep apnea more likely to use psychoactive medications such as ecstacy and alcohol?
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