Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sleep Apnea

In the last month I have spent two nights at the sleep clinic doing sleep studies.  The first was to see if I had sleep apnea. I do not sleep well and Tom often comments on how I have destroyed the bed with all my tossing and turning. My cardiologist thinks sleep apnea may be a contributing factor to my leaky valve getting worse and so she referred me for testing.

I have been told that I have severe sleep apnea when I am in REM or deep sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic "Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts." 

According to the nurse I stop breathing an average of 27.3 times per hour. They prefer you only do that once per hour, if at all.  So in 60 minutes that means I stop breathing or breath very shallowly every 2.2 minutes on average, for a few seconds to minutes.   

Sleep apnea is very disruptive to your sleep and moves you out of deep sleep into lighter sleep which means that you are getting a poorer quality of sleep and results in excessive daytime sleepiness. This can lead to more accidents, 

Sleep apnea is often undiagnosed because doctors can not detect it without a sleep study. There is no blood test for it. Often times it is noticed by your partner who may be the first to notice the signs of excessive snoring, snorting or gasping for breath in your sleep. It disrupts your sleep cycle and though you may not fully wake up, it does wake you up to a point, that disrupts your sleep.

You can have sleep apnea for years and not even know it because you become conditioned to the feeling of fatigue or daytime tiredness.  I never even thought of it as being the problem, I just knew I was tired a lot and would fall asleep in my chair. I would mention it to the doctor, but they never seemed to think it was a problem. Or at least not until my leaky valve got worse and my cardiologist said it could be a contributing factor and we needed to rule it out.

So now I have a diagnosis and know that a CPAP machine or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open. It can help me sleep better, and breathe while I am sleeping. It increases air pressure so your airway does not collapse and decreases daytime sleepiness.  It can also lower blood pressure which will put less pressure on my leaky valve.

In my research I have found that use of a CPAP machine can improve vitality and motivation, Job performance mood sexual drive and performance alertness while driving, quality of life, and quality of sleep.  While untreated sleep apnea can lead to hypertension or high blood pressure, stroke, and congestive heart failure.

I have been doing a ton of reading about sleep apnea and the CPAP machines so I have a better idea of what is going on with me and how to treat it.  I do know that I want a smaller machine that is quiet and easy to travel with and that I definitely want one with a humidifier as it can get very dry here in Alaska, especially in the winter.

Once I have had my follow up with the doctor and started using my own CPAP machine I will know more and I am sure I will see a difference in how tired I am. I will update this topic at that time. Right now I think I will go take a nap.

2 comments:

  1. Good to have the dx so that you can get your CPAP and sleep better.
    Wishing you peaceful slumber.

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    Replies
    1. The CPAP is wonderful! I had a very peaceful night's sleep last night and DH said that I did not keep hi awake with all my tossing and turning. I feel like I did not move all night. Will see how I feel in a week or two. My mother told me that after a couple weeks on her's, years ago when she first got it, it was like she gained 5 hours in her day.

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