Sleep is a precious. Especially precious if you never get any.
I don’t remember the last time that I slept more than 4 hours straight. On average, I wake up 3x during the night but if I manage to get a solid 4 or 5 hours I am good to go.
Take last night for instance. I was up til 3 am, way past my usual bedtime of 11-11:30 pm. I was pooped! Of course, it didn’t help any that my husband had set the alarm for 4:45 am.
Exactly one hour after my eyes had fluttered shut and I was in the midst of the most delicious dream, seriously, I was dreaming of cake, he popped his head off the pillow to look at the clock. I awoke with a start, punched my pillow and settled back down. Pop, look… wait 5 min..Pop, look… wait 5 min..Pop, look…FOR PETE’S SAKE, THE ALARM IS SET. GO BACK TO SLEEP OR GET UP!
Of course, I had only screamed this out loud in my head, I was too tired to actually verbalize anything that made sense. I felt his head turn to me, he nudged me and said,
“Hey are you working today?” “Arrggghh, No.” “Oh that’s right, you don’t go back til Thursday.”
He burrowed back down into the covers and was asleep, noted by soft snoring, in seconds. I sat up, looked over at my sleeping husband and glanced at the clock. 4:40 am. I flopped back down, readjusted the covers, punched the pillow and closed my eyes to wait for the alarm to go off. It did. He quietly got up and headed out the door forgetting that he had only hit snooze. The alarm blared again, I smacked it off and managed to get a few more hours of sleep. I was up by 8. I felt exhausted but couldn’t sleep.
I have sleep apnea and I sleep with a CPAP machine. That’s short for Constant Positive Airway Pressure. It’s a fact and NO it’s really not that sexy. Without the CPAP, my snoring can bring down the house. I have always snored. Even when I was skinny (we were all skinny once) I could be heard from the next room. Eventually my husband would have to sleep in the basement with the door closed and a pillow over his head or earplugs to block out my echoing snores.
Unfortunately, I started to develop all of the health problems that goes along with apnea and hypopnea (low blood oxygen). Weight gain, high blood pressure, morning headache, daytime sleepiness, dry mouth, arrythmias and a racing heart. I would stop breathing, the heart would race to send oxygen to my brain and then I would awaken with a gasp, choking for breath and a tight chest (from lung spasm and hyperventalation). At its worst it would happen hourly. I literally had to sleep sitting up. I had mentioned to doctors that I thought I had apnea but they told me I didn’t really fit the profile. Not a Man.
Finally, one night an episode sent me to the emergency room. I was having trouble breathing and my heart was fast and irregular. Once the tests came back, the ER Doc leaned over me and said, “we think you have a sleep disorder.” No kidding.
On the night I was tested, I thought I had slept well but apparently had stop breathing ~45 times/hour so I was diagnosed with severe apnea. (There are way worse cases than mine)
I bought an automated CPAP, which was covered through work by my supplementary health insurance. This was fortunate since they are expensive (mine was $2100.00 Cdn). The CPAP works by pushing room air into the nose at a low pressure, initially, so that one can fall asleep. When breathing stops it ramps up the pressure to maintain an open airway. It is attached to an adjustable humidifier as well, so the nostrils will not dry out, as can be the case with older models.
It is my new best friend and travels with me everywhere. I adjusted to it rather quickly and find that I feel more awake and have tons more energy during the day. I even gave up drinking my usual 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day which, I used to need to keep awake. In fact, I have cut out caffeinated coffee and tea completely. Granted, it isn’t the sexiest piece of equipment but it sure beats the hell out of gasping for air. I think it could even scare off an intruder.
The best part is that I don’t snore as long as I wear it. That makes my husband happy and he no longer has to sleep in the basement. Now, if I could just get him to wear one.