About 12 years ago, at the request of my wife—who put up with my snoring but was disturbed by the increasing frequency of episodes when I appeared to stop breathing—I got tested for sleep apnea. In one hour, I had a whopping 69 attacks of apnea (spells when I stopped breathing for 10 seconds or longer). My oxygen level was low, and I got virtually no restorative REM sleep.
I immediately began using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, a device worn at night that delivers a steady stream of air to keep the airways open. I couldn’t believe how much it improved my quality of life. Some people complain that their CPAPs or APAPs (an automatic version of CPAP) are uncomfortable, and they do take some getting used to.
But over the past 12 years, I’ve slept without mine only once, when I left it at home while traveling. I may occasionally forget to pack my toothbrush, but I never forget my CPAP because I am acutely aware of the tremendous benefits imparted by a good night’s sleep.
Sleep Apnea: A Serious, Common Sleep Disorder
A flood of research reveals links between sleep deprivation and a broad range of health concerns. In addition to making you tired and cranky, poor sleep can wreck your memory and mood, make you fat, raise your blood pressure and blood sugar, stress your immune system, and increase your risk of diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and dementia.
At the Whitaker Wellness Institute, if patients have any of these symptoms or disorders—or if they snore, a common sign of this condition—we evaluate them for sleep apnea. When I was tested 12 years ago, I had to spend a night in a sleep lab hooked up to all kinds of sensors and monitors. Now, we give patients a portable monitor to use in the comfort of their home or hotel room. Much less expensive and far more pleasant, this test is widely accepted as a reliable diagnostic tool.
It’s shocking how many of our patients do have sleep apnea—an estimated 70 percent of those who are tested. But it’s heartening to see how much better they feel once they adapt to CPAP/APAP. Here are some of their stories.
Get Help Today
If you snore, are overweight, and/or have metabolic syndrome, I encourage you to get tested for sleep apnea. As the Irish proverb goes, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”
Now it’s your turn: Do you or someone you know snore practically every night?