53 CommentsAgeing/Aging, Health and Wellness, Life

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.

sleep studies for insomnia. 2015 Retrospective

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:

Narrow airway
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.)

CPAP Machine, Sleep Study Follow up, The Doglady's DenBottom 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.

CPAP Mask, Sleep Study Follow Up

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!


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Debbie D.

Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as “The Doglady”. Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal “hippie/rockchick”. Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!

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53 thoughts on “SLEEP STUDY FOLLOW-UP

    1. Hi, Clowie; Please excuse the late reply – I was sick and am now trying to catch up. Yes, the mask is hard to get used to, but the consequences of severe apnea are motivating me to stick it out.

    1. I’m not thrilled with it, but the consequences of severe apnea are motivating me to persevere. Please excuse the late response – I was waylaid by a nasty bout of pneumonia.

  1. I’ve had sleep problems my entire life. When I was working full time and had to be out of bed at 6 am every workday, this was a problem. I don’t know how I functioned. There were times I felt too tired to drive and more than a few times I fell asleep reading a book to our boys and on the telephone speaking to my mother. I’m pretty sure I don’t have sleep apnea because I sleep with a pulmonologist. I made him get a sleep study because I could hear him stop breathing sometimes. He has sleep apnea. He tried CPAP, but didn’t adjust well (neither did I). Still, compared to me, he’s a great sleeper. We’ve decided I have a Delayed Phase Circadian Rhythm Disorder—-I can sleep—just not when I’m supposed to. I would love to feel well rested all the time—-or at least, more of the time.

    1. Hi, Suzanne; Please excuse the late reply, but I was waylaid by a nasty bout of pneumonia. I remember we spoke about this before and have similar sleeping patterns. The CPAP isn’t making much difference for me because I’m still a night person who has to get up earlier than she would like. We’ll see what the second sleep study has to report. You said your husband tried CPAP but didn’t adjust well. How is he managing his apnea without it? I would dearly love to ditch that thing!

      1. His diagnosis after the sleep study was mild apnea, so the CPAP isn’t critical and other than that, he’s a pretty good sleeper. If I hear him snoring, I turn him over so he’s on his side. That helps some. There are things other than CPAP. There’s BPAP that some tolerate better. I don’t recall the difference. There are also different kind of masks. The one my husband had only covered his nose.

        1. Lucky him! Mine was diagnosed as severe. I couldn’t tolerate the nasal masks at all. The full face one is the least objectionable, but I’m still having a hard time with it. I believe BPAP delivers two different levels of air pressure or something like that. Thanks for coming back to reply. I’ve been enjoying your Hawaii photos. 🙂

  2. I hope you get relief. I cannot imagine insomnia. In my family, most of us are heavy sleepers. I have always envied those who can get by on less than eight. I’m glad they found your sleep apnea and you have managed to use the CPAP. It is a start but with a cold, that mask would be impossible for sure. Take care, this was a most interesting post.

    1. The CPAP saga is taking even longer now, as I’m just recovering from pneumonia. It’s currently hooked up to an oxygen machine, which I guess turns it into a BIPAP. We’ll see what the second sleep study in June has to report.

  3. I appreciate the update and candid account of what sounds like a frustrating endeavor to get more rest. Gads, it could almost drive a person to drink – or something! Though I imagine the results would be much the same. While I’m all for conventional medicine, including sleep studies, etc., I do believe there’s something to be said for tried and true alternative remedies and sincerely hope one proves helpful – sooner than later. Thinking of you…

    1. Yes, it is frustrating, Diedre. I’ve tried all the current natural remedies, to no avail. For years, my doctor has been pushing me to get a sleep study done and I resisted, but now I’m in this thing for the long haul. Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts. 🙂 I’ll do another update in the fall.

  4. Debbie, it is so good that you shared this with us in depth. How often do we get to hear how the process goes. It must be hell living with insomnia and finding a comfortable cure sounds impossible. I can’t imagine sleeping with that machine but I guess if you persevere you could get used to it. I wish you all the best in overcoming this.

    Denise 🙂

    1. Hi, Denise; I’ve dealt with this most of my life, so what’s a few more months? 😛 So many people suffer from sleep disturbances and I thought this might be helpful in some small way. They say one can get used to anything, so here’s hoping! Thanks for your good wishes.

  5. Deb, my dad has worn one of those masks for almost 20 years and has been doing well with it. He rarely falls asleep at the table anymore or naps like he used to. It has made a difference too with his breathing. I sure hope it helps you as sleep is so important! I miss a few hours a night and feel it.

    1. Hi, Lisa; I’m glad to know your dad was helped by the CPAP and am hoping to have similar results. It’s just taking a long time to get there! Thanks for sharing your experience. Have a good weekend! 🙂

  6. I am happy you are getting help. A long, discouraging road, but I hope there is relief at the end of it. Not sexy, perhaps, but getting sleep is more important (at our age, lol). I do know two people who weren’t diagnosed until after other health problems developed. I’m past being worried about how sexy I am. I think.

    1. Yes, it is a long haul, but I’m trying to remain positive. Definitely not sexy; that was an attempt at humour. 🙂 The associated health problems are cause for concern but mostly, I’m tired of feeling like I’m under water, fighting a current.
      Thanks for dropping in and have a good weekend.

  7. Wow… The devil is in the details here… I hope the time invested does pay significant dividends for you, along the way. I hate that you are having to deal with such discomfort, but admire how you are facing this head on.

    1. Hi, Myke; Yes, it’s a long haul. 😛 I’m trying to remain positive and am holding on to hope that eventually, things will get better. Thanks for your kind words.

  8. I knew I was sleeping poorly and told my doctor. He told me to use Melatonin. After I began wearing the FitBit, that records sleep, I found out I’ve only been getting 3 to 4 hours a night. I even took my FitBit report in for the doctor to see. The only thing he said was a lack of sleep will mean no weight loss. I’m always trying to lose weight too. But no one’s ever mentioned a sleep study, but like you, I’m not sure I could stand a mask over my face. No wonder I’m so tired! 🙂 I thought it just meant I was getting old.

    I hope you continue to get a good nights sleep – it’s so important for over all heath.

    1. “No weight loss”- story of my life. 😛 I also have an underactive thyroid. The meds are supposed to normalize it, but somehow I don’t think they work too well. It does sound like you’d be a good candidate for a sleep study, Yolanda. I would keep after the doctor about it. Hopefully, you will find a solution to your sleeping difficulties. I’m tolerating the mask but doubt that I’ll ever like it. It’s weird that I’m still feeling so much fatigue, despite getting more sleep. The battle continues. Sigh….

  9. For some reason I feel the urge to watch Silence of the Lambs:)…Just kidding and I commend you for having to wear such a contraption. If it works and your body adjusts to the new style called sleeping, it will only improve your health. I went for a sleep study since I told the specialist that I fell asleep at most bars when I was young including one while sitting on a stool (People made bets when I would wake up) but what they found is that my body was saying I was in “waking mode” 22-24 times per minute. I don’t get enough REM sleep which is when the body heals itself (apparently). This seems to be connected to my Ehlers-Danlos also and the Dr said there is nothing one can do. What’s weird is I am out and a tree could fall on the house and I wouldn’t hear it. I also have really wonky dreams. Hey…when you went for the sleep thing, after they hooked up all those electrodes, did the person tell you to relax and fall asleep? I thought the guy was on drugs

    1. Hahaha! Pass the fava beans and Chianti! 😀

      I’m hoping this will improve my quality of life in the end, but it sure is frustrating in the meantime. I looked up
      Ehlers-Danlos. That sounds nasty! So sorry you are saddled with such a condition, Birgit. 🙁

      The sleep technician assured me I would sleep when I voiced scepticism and sure enough, I did, but only a few hours. I don’t think she ever told me to relax, though. That is a silly comment, for sure!

      Thanks for dropping in and have a good weekend.

  10. Oh, that can be scary. Thanks for sharing this, and hope all goes well for you, and do share the follow up- what will happen after the tests… As a blogosphere friend, I do relate to you as a friend, and wish you only the best:-) Sending hugs

  11. Oh my, Debbie. I hope you’ll be able to manage with something to help you. I think Cori’s. Husband just had the nasal surgery done. You might chat with her. Sleepless nights suck but sleeping more and still not feeling refreshed sucks even more.

    Hope you can find something to help.


    1. HI, Bren; It’s a long haul, for sure. 😛 Nasal surgery alone wouldn’t help me, as there are other contributing factors, Yes, it is all a bit frustrating! Thanks for dropping in and have a good weekend.

  12. I’m one of those few folks who LOVES my machine! I couldn’t use a CPAP and had to go to a BiPAP. My study came with weekly follow-up appointments with a sleep study doctor until I was comfortable and resting well. I also went online and found instructions for adjusting my own air pressure so I can adjust it as I need to. I have one of those full-face masks, too. I take my machine with me when I go away for the night, although I can sleep sitting up if I don’t use the machine. I named my machine Raymond Chandler (author of The Big Sleep). 🙂

    1. It’s great to read a positive review. Thanks, Marian! 🙂 I didn’t know it was possible to adjust the pressure myself, so thanks also for that insight. Clever name! I could call mine A.N. Roquelaure (aka Anne Rice). It’s been on a few road trips but not a plane. I hope they don’t include it in the hand luggage quota.

  13. Oh man, sleep apnea sounds scary! On a bright side, that full face mask looks pretty cool – sorry it’s not work out as well as it should 🙁 I have trouble sleeping sometimes, too, but it’s usually just my mind refusing to quit worrying about things. Hah :/

    1. Hi, Madilyn; It certainly can be scary if it leads to other health problems. I don’t enjoy the mask, but it’s less uncomfortable than the other ones, so I’m going to stick it out. It is hard to shut down the mind, sometimes. Hope you don’t have too many sleepless nights!

  14. I had a sleep test done. I wasn’t thrilled doing it, especially since I KNEW that the problem I had (restricting throat muscles and post-nasal drip, making it hard to breathe, not sleep–I could sleep through an earthquake) had nothing to do with a sleep disorder and because Russ was freaking out; he was afraid to be alone because he was already having severe chest pains that were keeping him awake, something he told me 5 minutes before he had his heart attack. Well, I was right, the results came back perfectly normal (although how I managed to sleep normally with all those wires everywhere and a bed that felt like I was sleeping on a bare rock, I don’t know…) and I missed 18 hours that I would have preferred spending at home with Russ. I woke up twice the whole night–once to turn over and the other, well…
    I told the doctor at the outset that that was NOT the problem, since I sleep just fine most nights. Anyway, it was an interesting experience, but I don’t want to do another any time soon.
    I’m glad they figured out your problem, although I’m sorry the “cure” isn’t working. I hope they will be able to find something better this next time.

    1. Hi, Mary; Too bad you had to waste your time, especially then. 🙁 I have chronic post nasal drip and it sure can be unpleasant, sometimes. Although I’m not thrilled about doing another sleep study, hopefully, this one (using the CPAP) will offer more answers. It’s so frustrating to not be feeling any better, after all that!

      1. Ah yes, chronic post nasal drip–mine has been driving me crazy since the early 90s. I fight it all day long and it’s (please forgive me–I think Russ must be looking over my shoulder today) a pain in the neck… 🙁 .

    1. Thanks, Vidya; I can relate to your friend and don’t enjoy it either! 😛 Fortunately, I don’t have any of the associated health problems, but hypothyroidism, which I do have, can also be a factor, apparently. Yes, here’s hoping the adjustment will help. I will do another follow-up in the fall.

    1. Do you wake up feeling tired, Carol? If so, it’s a good possibility. My doctor was nagging me for years to do the sleep study and I always resisted. It came to a point, where I was fed up with the constant fatigue and agreed to do it. Click on the link at the top of the page to read the full report, if you’re interested. Thanks for dropping in.

  15. You hit on a hot button or two on CPAP/BPAP.

    It’s generally easy to get a script for them but to get insurance participation requires a sleep study.

    The question for some of us including my cardiologist is if you have insomnia how do you do a sleep study which here cost a bit less than $1000US/night? Not only do I have broken sleep and take naps I can easily go 24 hours with NO sleep at all as just yesterday.

    The masks are awkward especially for we claustrophobics. When I tried a CPAP machine in a SubQ place I wore it for ever lengthening times several times per day during the day to become accustomed to it when I slept, or tried too. It did not help me fall asleep.

    I’m being sent to a pulmonologist as many are sent to Coventry, it feels. 🙂 I think I’ll bring up this whole issue of sleep study vs insomnia.

    Of course I wish you the best of health and happiness and comfort and as much sleep as you need.
    — Chi Chi

    1. Hi, Chi Chi; Yes, the mask was a difficult adjustment, but surprisingly, not as bad as I thought it would be. Trouble falling asleep won’t be cured by a CPAP machine; it only helps you sleep better and longer. I stay up as late as possible, that way I’m tired enough to sleep. Sorry you’re experiencing such difficulties! 🙁 Good idea to talk to the doctor about it and I hope there’s a solution for you. You must be exhausted! Thanks for dropping in.

  16. Hi, Debbie the Doglady!

    Thank you for informing us about the problem of sleep apnea. I had no idea so many people suffer from it, most of them undiagnosed. I was one of them. In my 20s I was plagued with sleep apnea and also had difficulty breathing through my nose when awake. When lying in a prone position on my back I nearly blacked out. In 1980 I underwent a rhinoplasty procedure to correct the airway. Things have been better since, although I need to prop my head up on two pillows when I sleep. I admire you for trying any and all new methods to eradicate your sleep disorder and enable a good night’s sleep. That said, some people thrive on less than eight hours sleep per night, some on much less, and sticking to a routine that works for you is probably better than strictly adhering to general guidelines established by the medical community. I wish you success in overcoming this challenge, dear friend Debbie!

    1. HI, Shady; I too was surprised by the statistics. Sounds like you had a deviated septum or similar problem? Good that you found a solution! I wish mine could be corrected by surgery, but there are too many different things causing it. Hopefully, some weight loss will help, but that’s not easy for an old lady to pull off, especially one who doesn’t enjoy working out. 😛 Maybe I should try hypnosis. LOL Yes, everyone has different needs in regards to sleep. Eight hours makes me groggy; six is ideal, five is okay. They say “early to bed, early to rise”, but the night is my favourite time; always has been. Thanks for your good wishes!

  17. Debbie, I admire you so much for your honest and candid article.
    Both my husband and my brother have sleep apnea. It took my husband almost 3 years till he could honestly say he feels comfortable with the mask. He changed the sizes and the forms almost every three months. We learned that is normal. After about 6 months, he slept literally like a baby. He felt refreshed and simply well rested the entire day. My brother also had a hard time adjusting. He hid his machine in the closet when he couldn’t stand it. But because he got such terrible headaches, he pulled it out again and again. Now he wouldn’t want to be a night without it. And he too feels rested and like a new person.
    So stick through this Debbie. It’s hard, but one day you will wake up and realize you feel rested and full of energy. I always used to say to my husband the alternatives are so much worse. And that’s what kept him going.
    Keep taking care of yourself dear Debbie. You are precious to so many of us.

    1. Thank you, Angelika; I thought this might be informative for others who are struggling with similar issues. Thanks also for sharing the stories of your husband and brother. Three years is a long time to see results. I can’t even remember what it’s like to wake up feeling refreshed or to have lots of energy during the day! Looks like your brother and I have something in common. 🙂 I hid the machine too, for a time, as I was discouraged. Yes, I will definitely stick with it and hope for the best! Apparently 90% of people do see improvements and I hope to get there, eventually.

    1. Hi, Carol; It’s a long, drawn out process and I’m a little discouraged that it’s not helping much, so far. However, I will persevere and hope for improvement. Thanks for dropping in. 🙂

  18. So far I haven’t had any problems with chronic insomnia. I sleep less at a time when I do sleep, but I tend to take short naps throughout the day. I hope I don’t need a sleep study for those reasons and I wouldn’t want to sleep with a machine. However, I’ve always wanted to do a sleep study where they monitor my dreams and maybe even experiment with my dream cycles.


    1. I too was only able to sleep for short periods at a time, Lee. Nobody likes the machine, but it does let me stay asleep for a longer period. Hopefully, the adjusted pressure will make a difference. A study to monitor dreams would be fascinating!
      Good that you are able to take naps. I always resist doing that but tend to doze off in front of the TV at night. Thanks for dropping in tonight.

    1. I’ve tried so many things: Valerian root, St. John’s Wort, Sleepy Time tea, 5HTP, Melatonin, etc. Nothing seems to work, but I’m hoping the increased pressure on the machine will. In any case, there will be another follow-up after the second sleep study, probably in the fall. Thanks, Corinne.