I’m always tired. Not for the expected reasons (too many commitments, getting older or from just being a parent of a child with boundless energy) but instead I’ve always had issues with sleep. I’ve gone from being able to fall asleep anywhere and at any time in high school (there are photos to prove it but I’m not sharing them) to my varying bouts of insomnia since college.
Not one sleep inducing remedy has ever helped for more than a short time – and I’ve tried them all: melatonin, lavender sprays, hot milk, eye mask, having a sleep routine and medication (both OTC and prescription). Although I’ll admit, I’m way too cheap to try the $395 Philip Stein sleep bracelet I saw recently in my Instagram feed.
When my annual check up gave no medical indications for my sleep issues, my new doctor suggested an in-home sleep study. So I wore a crapload of wires to bed for 3 nights in November. I had a contraption that monitored my breathing via a lovely looking (and feeling) nasal cannula and a pulse oximeter on my finger to measure the levels of oxygen in my blood while a small device recorded my breathing while I slept. Last week I met with my doctor to get my results and was shocked to find out:
I have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea!?! WTF?!?
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition where you have one or more pauses in breathing from just a few seconds to a few minutes that disrupts deep sleep. The pauses (or shallow breaths) can occur more than 30 times in an hour resulting in poor sleep overall. It’s a leading cause of daytime sleepiness and potential complications of sleep apnea include high blood pressure, heart and problems, as well as medical and surgical complications.
I was floored by my diagnosis. It really was the last thing I was expecting to hear my doctor tell me. I had some incorrect perceptions of sleep apnea. Did you know that there are two kinds of sleep apnea?
- Obstructive: where the airway collapses or is blocked during sleep and often accompanied by snoring or choking sounds. Risk factors include: excess weight, narrowed airway and/or nasal congestion (even in children), gender (male > female), age (>60), family history, taking medications that relax the throat muscles like alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers and smoking.
- Central: when the area of the brain that controls sleep doesn’t send the correct information required to the muscles required for breathing; it can occur with obstructive sleep apnea or alone; snoring is rare in central sleep apnea. Risk factors include: gender (male > female), age (>65), heart disorders and brain tumor or stroke.
Want to guess which kind of sleep apnea I have?
With a whopping 76 snores in an hour (and 18 oxygen desaturations in an evening), I’m the
proud pissed off owner of the obstructive sleep apnea title in my house. I’ve been told I snore (but don’t worry AJ, Jill and Margarita, I won’t keep you awake at our future conferences, I promise) but it’s only mild (7 dB per the sleep study analysis). I know I don’t snore as loud or as long as my pug, Griffin does. Have you ever heard a pug snore? If you haven’t, you must.
How do you treat sleep apnea?
Since I am at a healthy weight and don’t have any of the other major risk factors at play (except for the occasional alcoholic beverage or sleeping medications), the issue to fix is airway obstruction via an oral device. While I’m not thrilled to return to years past with a grown up non-orthodontic mouthgard, I was happy I wasn’t told that I needed to give up wine and beer (the meds, I’d gladly flush down the toilet).
My doctor was nice and told me that instead of going to the dentist to have a $4,000 device made, to try an online product that many of her patients found useful called Z-Quiet. Even though the website looked as if it were art directed by the creator of the worst infomercial ever produced, I bought the damned device and in 4-6 weeks (yeah, we’re not talking Amazon Prime here), I’ll be able to feel like I’m the Judy Blume era of my former self.
In the vein of my 2014 mantra: “How am I going to be an optimist about this?”
I’m hopeful that if this contraption works, maybe I’ll be a better version of myself. I have a fantasy that maybe with some proper rest that I’ll be sunnier in disposition, an efficiency maven in life and work and I’ll feel like Superwoman in my physical fitness endeavors.
I’m certain that in reality, achieving proper sleep won’t give my life exactly what I picture in my mind (much like the unrealistic visions attached to a goal weight number while on a weight loss journey) but I’m pretty sure that things are going to get better. I’m not willing to entertain thoughts that this thing won’t work and I’ll need to take another road. I’ll keep you up-to-date though!
**Please note that this is NOT a sponsored post and there are no affiliate links within this post.
I’d love to know what do you do to combat your sleep issues? Do you have sleep apnea? Does anyone you know have sleep apnea?