Sleep Apnea

My husband slept with a friend of mine recently.  It isn’t as bad as it sounds; they were in separate beds.  My husband claims he was up all night because of my friend’s snoring which he described in several different ways from a chainsaw going off in his head to a cruel form of auditory torture.  He does not often exaggerate so my guess is that it was pretty bad.

His wife says that he keeps her up nightly and she hardly gets any sleep because of his cacophony.  She is one of those beautiful, nice, really fun, super successful, great mom types who I don’t care for very much.  I almost hesitate to write today’s entry for fear that it will help him and therefore, give her some much needed sleep.  If I feel inadequate next to her now, imagine what a full night’s sleep is going to do to my self-esteem.  Since it is the season of giving, I will put my insecurities aside.  If you have sleep apnea, get some help and quick!

  1. How do you know if you have sleep apnea?  If you find yourself sleeping on the couch most nights because you have been kicked out of bed for snoring, take a look at these other symptoms and see if any fit.
  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • wakening feeling groggy and unrefreshed
  • problems with concentration and memory
  • morning and nighttime headaches
  • waking during the night to urinate

2.  How do you know if your partner has sleep apnea?

  • you hate them and want to hold a pillow over their face during the night
  • loud snoring
  • restless movements during sleep
  • episodes of not breathing (when no pillow has been used as a weapon).  These can range from 5 an hour to 50 an hour
  • nighttime choking or gasping spells

3.  How do you know if your child has sleep apnea?  In children under 5, look for:

  • snoring
  • mouth breathing
  • sweating
  • restlessness
  • frequent wakening

In children over 5, look for the above as well as:

  • bed wetting
  • doing poorly in school
  • stunted growth for their age
  • inability to focus

4.  What is sleep apnea?  A period of time where breathing stops or is markedly reduced.  Most commonly, it is caused by some kind of obstruction or blockage that gets in the way of breathing.  The airway can be blocked at any point along its path from your nose and mouth to your throat.  Sometimes the tongue and the muscles relax too much during sleep.   Obesity and alcohol use increase your risk of having sleep apnea.  Sometimes the obstruction is from your tonsils and/or adenoids, which is usually the case with children.

5.  So, who cares?  It might not bother you that you are keeping the whole neighborhood awake but it should.  If you have sleep apnea, you are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart disease, stroke, depression and type 2 diabetes.

There are treatments for sleep apnea that your doctor can discuss with you.  They depend on the severity of your apnea and range from lifestyle modifications and alternative treatments to physical tools that can open your airway and provide more oxygen.  Surgery can also be an option.

Most people with sleep apnea snore but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.  My husband snores only once in a while.  The snoring doesn’t bother me, but it wakes him up.  At that point, he usually gives me a hard shove and yells in an almost unrecognizable voice, “Sorry.  Sorry.  Sorry.  I was snoring.”  If you read yesterday’s entry, you know that then I am awake for two hours, only in this case, I am usually worrying about how to go about finding the best divorce lawyer.

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  • Not sure if you knew this or not but this is what my father died from.