Yep, I literally got wired! LOL! I went for my sleep study. Now, in case you've ever wondered what takes place at a sleep study....here's a visual for you! LOL!
This was my 3rd sleep study, so I knew what to expect. Just imagine trying to go to sleep with all of those wires placed all over you....your head, your face, your chest, your legs....and this wasn't all of it! Once I got all wired up totally, I also had two belts across my chest and a tubing up my nostrils!
And, believe it or not, I managed to actually sleep!!! I remember having a horrible time even falling asleep during my last sleep study. But, this time I was actually relaxed and feel like I slept much better, although I seemed to wake up all night long and then go right back to sleep.
It's really a very simple test....if you can sleep. I just had to arrive at the local hospital at 8 PM...get all wired up....watch tv until I was ready to sleep....then sleep. You have a more normal bed to sleep in...rather than a hospital bed. They woke me up at 6 AM to go home. That's it...didn't even get breakfast! :=( I just crawled back in bed once I got home and got the goop washed out of my hair and off of my body (much easier to wash out of short hair!) and slept a couple more hours in my own bed!
The wires monitor all sorts of things while I sleep....including my brain waves, leg twitching, my breathing, oxygen intake, and who knows what else! The tech told me that my oxygen level stayed in the 90's, which is good!!! Last year it dropped down into the 70's, which is dangerous and hard on your heart. So, this was good news for me and it will probably result in me being able to do away with the oxygen I have to wear at night at home. He said I had a couple of "incidences", but not bad. He doesn't really diagnose me...it's up to my neurologist to read the results and tell me whether I can get off of the mask I have had to wear at night for the past year and a half.
Imagine having to sleep with this on and you'll understand why I'm hoping to get rid of it...real pretty, huh? LOL! But, I will admit, I did get used to it.
No, this isn't me! Borrowed this pic somewhere on the web.
I knew nothing about Sleep Apnea until last year when I was diagnosed following a major surgery I had. Every year when I went to my primary physician for my annual check-up, he'd ask me how I was feeling and every year I'd tell him I was "tired all the time". Now, I'm not talking a regular "tired" that we all get....it was a non-functional tired that affected my daily life. All I wanted to do was sleep. Now, I do still enjoy a good nap, but it might be an hour power nap...not a five hour long nap before bedtime. The standard answer was to "lose weight and exercise". But, at my last check-up, I got a "new response" from him....he said he wondered if maybe we were looking at some sleep apnea! Then a few months later, I had surgery and was in the hospital for 5 days and my oxygen level was monitored at night and they realized that my oxygen dropped to dangerous levels while I slept. This resulted with me having to have an oxygen tank at home when I was released from the hospital....only for nighttime sleeping. Then I was referred to a neurologist who ordered a "sleep study". The diagnosis: Obstructive Sleep Apnea....which resulted in a CPAP machine and a mask to wear to bed every night. As much as I hated the idea of wearing that mask every night, I was thrilled to finally have an ANSWER to my fatigue problem, as it had really affected my life in a negative way! And, I actually got used to the mask and looked forward to wearing it when I went to bed....because I knew I'd feel better the next morning. It takes a bit of time to make up the "sleep debt", but if you are faithful to wear your mask every night, it can pay off!
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not get enough oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.
These seven health problems are linked to obstructive sleep apnea:
- High blood pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure in people who have it. The frequent nighttime wakings that plague people with sleep apnea cause hormonal systems to go into overdrive, which results in high blood pressure levels at night. Low blood-oxygen levels, caused by the cutoff of oxygen, may also contribute to hypertension in people with sleep apnea. The good news: Some people with high blood pressure who are treated for sleep apnea can cut back on their blood pressure medications.
- Heart disease. People with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to suffer heart attacks and die in the middle of the night. The causes may be low oxygen or the stress of waking up often during sleep. Stroke and atrial fibrillation – a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat -- are also associated with obstructive sleep apnea. The disrupted oxygen flow caused by sleep apnea makes it hard for your brain to regulate the flow of blood in arteries and the brain itself.
- Type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea is very common among people with type 2 diabetes – up to 80% of diabetics have some obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity is a common risk factor for both disorders. Although studies haven’t shown a clear link between sleep apnea alone and type 2 diabetes, sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
- Weight gain. Adding weight raises your risk of sleep apnea, and up to two-thirds of people with sleep apnea are severely overweight. Obstructive sleep apnea can often be cured if you lose enough weight, but that can be tough to do. Being overweight causes fatty deposits in the neck that block breathing at night. In turn, sleep apnea impairs the body’s endocrine systems, causing the release of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you crave carbohydrates and sweets. Also, people with sleep apnea who are tired and sleepy all the time may have lower metabolisms, which can also contribute to weight gain. Getting treatment for sleep apnea can make you feel better, with more energy for exercise and other activities.
- Adult asthma. Although the link to obstructive sleep apnea is not proven, people who are treated for sleep apnea may find they have fewer asthma attacks.
- GERD. There’s no proof that sleep apnea causes acid reflux, but many people with sleep apnea complain of acid reflux, and treating it seems to improve apnea symptoms, say sleep physicians.
- Car accidents. Daytime grogginess can put people with sleep apnea at increased risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. People with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely than normal sleepers to have traffic accidents.
Just like breast cancer, I knew nothing about Sleep Apnea until I was diagnosed with it. I found it fascinating to learn the different stages of sleep we go through at night and how important it is to hit these stages. I never knew!
Stages of Sleep: REM and Non-REM Sleep
When you sleep, your body rests and restores its energy levels. However, sleep is an active state that affects both your physical and mental well-being. A good night's sleep is often the best way to help you cope with stress, solve problems, or recover from illness.
What Happens During Sleep?
Sleep is prompted by natural cycles of activity in the brain and consists of two basic states: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which consists of Stages 1 through 4.
During sleep, the body cycles between non-REM and REM sleep. Typically, people begin the sleep cycle with a period of non-REM sleep followed by a very short period of REM sleep. Dreams generally occur in the REM stage of sleep.
You can read about the different stages at the link above. Very fascinating and as you can see, very important to both our mental health and our physical health. After I was diagnosed I realized I had not been dreaming any longer....I just never realized it or thought about it....and it was because I was not reaching the REM stage! Last night he told me I reached that REM stage several times, even without a CPAP machine....so that was encouraging! I should hear from my neurologist within a week with word whether I can get off of this cpap machine or not. Many times losing weight can result in no longer needing it....so, I'm hoping! :=)
So, until next time.....do you feel tired every day, even after sleeping? Do you dream? Do you snore and maybe even wake yourself up snoring? I told my neurologist that I'd sometimes wake myself up snoring and his answer startled me! He said people think they are waking themselves up snoring, but the fact is that they have quit breathing and their body is jerking them awake to breathe and they hear themselves snoring as they come out of their sleep! That was sure a scary thought! Many people have no idea what sleep apnea is, even though they may very well have it! If you suspect you may be suffering from it, I encourage you to talk with your doctor about it. It truly can make a difference in the quality of your life!