Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Snoring and Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2020 Dec;163(6):1078-1086. doi: 10.1177/0194599820931087. Epub 2020 Jun 9.


Objective: To systematically review the international literature for studies evaluating the effect of alcohol consumption on the occurrence and severity of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea and to use the available data to perform a meta-analysis.

Data sources: MEDLINE, Embase, The Cochrane Library, CINAHL/EBASCO, and Scopus.

Review methods: The protocol was registered in PROSPERO in March 2018. Following PRISMA guidelines, 2 independent researchers conducted a search from their inception through July 2018. Polysomnography (PSG) data were collected for sleep stages, apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), respiratory disturbance index, and/or lowest oxygen saturation (LSAT). Data concerning the frequency and severity of snoring intensity and sleep architecture were also collected. Only studies with PSG data were evaluated, with exclusion of studies with home sleep testing data. A multivariate regression and pooled analysis with forest plot was performed.

Results: A total of 1266 manuscripts were screened, and 13 manuscripts with 279 patients met inclusion criteria. Pooled analysis of AHI for control versus alcohol consumption revealed a mean difference (MD) of 3.98 events per hour (95% CI, 3.27 to 4.68; P < .001). Pooled analysis of LSAT for control versus alcohol consumption revealed an MD of -2.72% (95% CI, -3.69 to -1.76; Z score, 5.53; P < .00001).

Conclusion: Alcohol consumption is associated with worsening severity of snoring, altered sleep architecture, AHI, as well as lowest oxygen saturation among patients susceptible to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

Keywords: alcohol; ethanol; meta-analysis; obstructive sleep apnea; snoring; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Snoring / physiopathology*