[by Adrienne] I am pleased to say I get to sleep in the same bed with my husband again. I realize it doesn’t sound like something to get up and shout about, but after more than two years of sleeping apart, I’m ecstatic! Why? My husband was tested and diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Based on the information provided by the test, he was able to purchase a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure) machine that suited his breathing patterns.
His case is almost textbook. He fits many of the risk factors: male, over 40, overweight. As often happens, I had to tell him I thought he had sleep apnea. Many sufferers aren’t aware they stop breathing; it's a bedmate or roommate that lets them know there's a problem.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of serious health problems including:
• High blood pressure
• Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes. While less common in children and adolescents, it can affect attention and academic achievement.
In my husband’s case, he snored so loudly, I could hear him even when I escaped to the sofa down the hall or into my step-daughter's room. He was chronically groggy or low energy. Since we work from home, he took naps almost every day, even if he’d slept nine or 10 hours the night before. He had almost daily headaches and was very forgetful. All are classic symptoms of sleep apnea.
One symptom that wasn’t mentioned in the literature we read—he woke up in the middle of the night almost every single night to take antacids. It didn’t matter what he’d had for dinner or the length of time between dinner and bedtime. Antacids were his midnight snack almost every night. It turns out the constant gasping for air was affecting his digestion.
Once he read the symptoms, he made an appointment with his doctor, who then referred him to a sleep clinic. Some polysomnograms are done in clinics overnight. My husband was sent home with a monitor and shown how to set up the sensors for his heart rate, nasal air flow, blood oxygen levels, and chest movements (this can register an effort to breathe that may not be bringing in any oxygen). Based on that, it was determined he stopped breathing 37 times an hour. Anything over five stoppages is diagnosed as sleep apnea.
The CPAP machine took a little getting used to, but the results have more than outweighed the initial adjustment. Except for a couple of days when he was down with the flu, naps are a thing of the past. The headaches have disappeared. The antacids no longer have a permanent place on his bedside table. And I get to wake up next to my husband, who now has reduced his risk for heart attack and stroke. And to all a good night!
Photo by Samantha Fein