The Unexpected Reason For Being Constantly Tired

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.

 

Sleep, sleep disorders, sleep apnea

I only wish my sleep resembled this image by Sean MacEntee

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.

 and

  • 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 AJJill 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.

 

Darth Vader, Pug, snoring

To sound like Darth Vader in yoga is a good thing. To sound like Darth Pug at night, not so much.

 

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?

Comments

  1. says

    I have a family member with sleep apnea, but the diagnosis was pretty new. He did the same overnight study that you did and got his results. I am pretty sure that he is using a device while he sleeps. I’ll try and find out for you though.

    Getting the diagnosis is hard…but I always argue that I love to know what the problem is vs suffering from the unknown. Sending extra hugs your way!
    Kimberly (Manifest Yourself) recently posted…Journey to Wellness 1/13My Profile

    • says

      The diagnosis was shocking and it’s taking some getting used to. I’m happy to know the issue and now it’s just working on getting it solved. I look forward to the possibility of feeling like a new me!

  2. says

    I’m so glad you got this diagnosed! At least now you know what it is and in a month or so (ha!) you can hopefully be sleeping more soundly. Both of my kids have sleep apnea caused by giant tonsils! Miles had his out and Vaughn may be next. There’s a HUGE difference now in the way Miles sleeps vs Vaughn so the surgery is totally worth it.
    Good luck getting your zzzz’s girl!!
    Allie Burdick recently posted…The Rundown – Link Up!My Profile

    • says

      I wish this were due to tonsils but my tonsils and addenoids were removed when I was 5. It’s structural though so I’m hoping the mouth device will help. I’m hoping that some extra zzz’s will make me an extraordinary version of myself. We’ll see….

  3. says

    Wow. That is a surprising diagnosis. I really hope the contraption works out. I know how horrible I feel after a bad night of sleep, I can’t imagine that going on for an extended period of time. Ugh.
    carrie recently posted…Happy MondayMy Profile

    • says

      Surprising is absolutely right. I didn’t think this was within the wheelhouse of possibilities but here it is. I’m learning more about sleep apnea and working through my own feelings about it. I’m hoping this mouth contraption works because I’m not thrilled about the possibility of a machine to help me sleep for the rest of my life.

    • says

      I love that you called me young. I’m officially your biggest fan forever now! I’m hoping this contraption works but if it doesn’t I may need to hook up with your Dad for pointers on how to use a CPAP.

    • says

      Thanks Kriselle for the support! I was more shocked than scared about the diagnosis. I bet that many people who get the diagnosis don’t expect it either. I’m glad to have a root cause for my issue and I’m hoping that the Z-Quiet thing helps! Thank you for stopping by!

    • says

      Perhaps it’s time to get yourself checked out, Kim. The in-home sleep study that I used was from a company called Snap. Good luck and let me know if you do the test and the results. Maybe we can puzzle this out together?

    • says

      Many thanks Kim. I’m hoping I don’t have to go the CPAP route but if it happens, I’ll have to deal with it. Sleep is important. I look forward to getting to know myself as a well rested person.

    • says

      Sharon: As I said, I was totally shocked about the sleep apnea dx. Insomnia is lousy but I do get a chance to binge on TV shows sometimes when I can’t sleep so there’s that, right?

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