Last March, I wrote about undergoing a sleep study to find the root cause for my chronic insomnia. This has plagued me since childhood and I was literally sick and tired! Read more HERE.
It took a couple of months for the report to come in, as there is only one sleep study specialist in our area. My family doctor had the results and they weren’t good. He referred me to a Respirologist for further consultation. The diagnosis was severe sleep apnea. According to the report, I stopped breathing 48 – 55 times in the space of an hour. That was a sobering revelation! Even as a child I was a fitful sleeper and now I know why. What is causing this? A combination of the following:
Larger than average tongue
Narrow sinuses & chronic sinusitis
(I’ve never been thin and have a large frame, but the weight has piled on in recent years.)
Bottom line? Losing weight would help some (and I am seriously working on that after living it up in December), but it won’t go away. I was prescribed one of those dreaded CPAP machines. Who wants to sleep with an appliance on their face, especially when claustrophobic? I’d rather have surgery, but the sad fact is, it only helps 25-30% of apnea sufferers. Read more HERE.
So began this protracted journey. First, a 30 day trial with the machine and different types of masks. My claustrophobic self was stressing about that and I couldn’t handle the ones that fit around the nose at all, due to chronic sinus and allergy issues. The least objectionable was the full face mask, which allows you to breathe through the mouth, if necessary. Sexy, eh? 😛 There’s a slide show of different masks on the Mayo Clinic’s website. If you’re interested, click HERE. While my initial reaction was to panic and pull it off, that only lasted a few days. I started using the machine regularly and was able to sleep solidly for several hours, instead of waking up multiple times. There were even some eight-hour nights, but believe it or not, instead of feeling refreshed, I was groggy and grumpy. My body isn’t used to getting that much sleep, with 5 to 6 hours being the norm. (I’ve always been nocturnal.)
Three months later, there was no marked improvement, despite getting more uninterrupted sleep. Reports from the machine’s memory card indicated that my apnea levels, although much improved, were still too high and the Respirologist prescribed an increase in air pressure. This was discouraging to me and I parked the machine in the closet. Then, I got sick and couldn’t bear the idea of wearing a mask with all that coughing, sneezing and mucus. I’m over it now and started using the machine again a couple of weeks ago. The pressure was reset today and I am hoping for the best. There will be a follow-up in a month and another sleep study in June, which I was SO hoping to avoid, but it’s important to get a handle on this. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you’re contemplating CPAP therapy, please don’t be discouraged by my struggles. Many people do experience immediate improvements.
Sleep apnea can lead to other major health problems like high blood pressure, heart attack, Type 2 diabetes, etc. Read more HERE. At my age (61 next week), this is definitely a concern! If you have chronic insomnia, why not consider doing a sleep study? It may offer you a solution, or at least, some answers.
Did you know that an estimated 100 million people worldwide suffer from sleep apnea?
Approximately 80 percent of those people are currently undiagnosed.
Read more HERE.
Looking forward to your comments!