Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sleep apnea again

Just a year ago, I wrote about sleep apnea.  Now, since I listened to Prof. Heller's lectures on sleep, the cost of inadequate sleep and the danger of death by apnea, the subject has my attention again.  At lunch today, with seven men, half had been checked for apnea and three use a CPAP mask or mouth device.  Another friend was found to be dangerously subject to the condition and registered many episodes and very low oxygen saturation levels.  He is scheduled for a night in the sleep clinic soon.

I have an appointment this morning to evaluate the likelihood that I should sleep with the testing glove on.  That is the pre-test that shows whether it is a good idea for me to have a full sleepover in the sleep clinic at the local hospital.

Since throat and tongue difficulties can obstruct breathing or restrict the amount of air the body is getting, the heart can be overworked and develop problems of function or shape.  Many variables are associated with inadequate sleep and the sneaky thing about apnea episodes is that they can disturb the sleeper enough to cause a partial awakening, enough to get the breath going but not enough to register in the mind, especially the next day.  The sleeper is not getting adequate sleep but is not aware of that fact.  Steady nights of insufficiently restful sleep can increase intolerance for insulin, increase appetite, especially for carbohydrates, damage one's bones and bone marrow.  

The professor estimates that 40% of men snore.  Snoring is an indicator of possible apnea.  Being overweight, sleeping on the back, having an undershot chin are all indicators of higher risk of apnea. The main symptom I have is drowsiness during the day and I am eager to get more information on whether I have apnea.

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