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Published 7th October 2015 by

For the past, I don't know how many years I've had problems sleeping. Sometimes difficulty in getting to sleep, other times difficulty staying asleep. Even when I wake up thinking I've had a "good night" I am more tired, more drained and feel worse than when I went to bed.

Over the past 6 months or so it's been getting worse and worse, and when it was noticed that whilst sleeping I often stop breathing, it was time to seek medical advice. Apparently stopping breathing during the night is bad. The snoring is pretty bad as well.

So I went to see my GP and based on my descriptions, and responses to the questionnaire, she booked me in for a sleep study as it sounded like a classic case of sleep apnea. It obviously wasn't an urgent referral as I had to wait nearly 8 weeks for the sleep study, but the time eventually came. The study was conducted from the hospital, but I was able to take the equipment home. I was hooked up to all kinds of metering and measuring devices for respiration airflow, respiration effort, oxygen saturation, pulse, heart rhythm and a few other things. I took the equipment back the next day and to get the results, which were surprising, to say the least. They showed that I had a serious breathing condition, so serious I was booked in for treatment the next working day.

The table below shows some of the stats recorded from the sleep study.

Apnea Index Time461.4 minutes
Apnea + Hypopnea39451.2 / h
Supine A+H39357.6 / h
Non-Supine A+H11.2 / h
SpO2Min 82%Average 92.9%
Desaturation Events35345.9 / h
Breaths detected5172
Below threshold141527.4%
Heart rateMin 55, Max 105Av 73.9

From the data gathered it was clear that I do not get to deep sleep, in fact on average once per minute I stop breathing for 30 seconds or more. That means that on average, I spend more time suffocating than breathing during the night. This resulted in a severe sleep deprivation and hypoxia (low blood oxygen). A blood oxygen of 96% sets off alarms in hospitals, mine fell as low as 82%

Based on these results, it's no wonder that I was suffering poor memory, lack of concentration, impaired judgement, moodiness and irritability.

During the treatment session I was fitted out with an Automatic Positive Air Pressure (APAP) device which literally forces air into my lungs keeping the airways open. Unfortunately, it means I have to wear this uncomfortable looking mask (it's more uncomfortable than it looks, believe me) every night. There isn't any cure for sleep apnea yet, although obesity, smoking and alcohol are all contributing factors. Since I am not massively overweight and don't smoke, I'll just have to cut down on the booze and continue using the device each night.

Sleep Apnea CPAP Mask

Sleep Apnea CPAP Mask

Do you suffer from sleep apnea? Do you have any tips for dealing with apnea or using the CPAP devices? Please let us know in the comments.

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