Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snorkeling in the Dark

I have sleep apnea. If you don't know, that is a condition in which you stop breathing while you are asleep. It's most prevalent in overweight people but I have friends who are very fit and also suffer from it. Why so many heavy people? Simply put, the fat we carry is throughout our bodies, including the air passages. When we relax, as when we are asleep, that fat blocks the airways and causes us to stop breathing. We don't die because we wake up, not all the way, but just enough to start breathing again. A common indicator of sleep apnea is snoring.

Why is this a problem? Because it's very difficult to get to deep REM sleep when you are waking up, even just a little bit, every night, all night long. Here are the problems associated with sleep deprivation:
"Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes."

Well, that pretty much describes me! Before I did a sleep study to diagnose my sleep apnea I felt tired all the time. No matter how much sleep I thought I was getting at night, I would still fall asleep at my desk at work. That's not good!! It was easy to overlook many of the other symptoms as just being part of who I am.

There is more than one way to treat sleep apnea but probably the most successful one is with a cpap (pronounced SEE-Pap) machine. This machine forces air into your nose/throat/lungs at a preset force which creates enough pressure to keep the passage way open, thus allowing full REM sleep to occur. The down side of this is the big old ugly equipment. It puts a real damper on looking sexy in bed!

It's also important to find comfortable equipment. I hate mine and so don't use it as often as I should, which would be every night. But when I do.... lets just say life is much better!! It's really time for me to retake the sleep evaluation and look at new, improved equipment.

When I go to bed I plug in my little cpap machine and take the mask and place it over my nose. Large black straps encircle my head assuring it stays in place. Now from the center of my face I have a big clear tube, like an elephant trunk, pumping air into me. Doesn't that sound like fun? The most annoying issue is getting it to seal properly on my face so I don't have air leaking out from it creating a loud hissssssssss. The more I use it the quicker and easier I find the right fit.

Sometimes it feels like falling asleep takes forever. I become very aware of every breath I take while it's on. But once I fall asleep it's good. It's all so good.

I'm only surprised I don't have dreams of snorkeling. With that gizmo on my face I should really be enjoying some awesome underwater adventures.


  1. Where's your flippers? You know I recently died while snorkeling? Perhaps a pair of gravity boots to complete the ensemble? Wouldn't that make for an exciting game of cat and mouse before bed.

    Seriously, find equipment which is more comfortable so you will USE it. Not that you need your beauty sleep but you do need to be somewhat coherent in your day to day living...

  2. I did see that you recently died while snorkeling! I don't use flippers b/c my fingers and toes are webbed.

    Coherency is overrated...