I used to have a very bad case of sleep apnea. Needed naps in the afternoon, woke up gasping, and had earthquake-like snoring that moved my partner to another room for years. I once casued an international incident falling asleep on an air plane. I was that loud.
Sleep apnea is casued when the back of your throat closes over your widpipe and cuts off the oxygen while sleeping. The air going through causes your palate to vibrate loudly. My whole famly had problems with it. I describe the group of us ( my amazing family) as “barrels with legs” who had thick necks and short torsos (now doesn’t that sound attractive…) and small, closed off tracheas . Sleep apnea is a very serious issue, and is the cause of more sleep related deaths, heart attacks, and fatigue issues than most people realize. You also walk around like the a cast member from Dawn of the Dead becasue your body keeps jerking you out of sleep in order to breathe. It can impact marriages (certainly sex lives), and leave sufferers chronically exhausted. It also goes (terrifyingly) on your driving record.
To diagnose apnea you go for a sleep test. You end up looking alot like the guy in the picture. They wire you up with electrodes to determine if you have small breathing pauses during the night. I just finished my third of these tests. I’m trying to download the picture of me covered in wires so you can see how attractive I am as the bride of Frankenstein. You don’t get much sleep. You are in a hospital setting and they have a camera watching you dose and listening to your charming sleep sounds. They wake you up if your mask slips of if one of your wires disconect.
On my first sleep test I was diagnosed with severe apnea. My second test involved what I call “sleeping with the elephant”. This is where they put you on a CPAP machine with as long air tube uses air pressure to force the back of your throat open. I ended up ripping it off in the middle of the night and throwing it across the room. Other people love them and couldn’t imagine how they ever slept without it. They wake up rested and oxygenated for the first time in years. I hated the machine and tried it for over a month with no success. I kept taking it off while I slept. So I opted for the UPPP surgery. This involved tearing out my tonsils, my uvula (the dangly thing at the back of your throat), and a good chunk of the soft palate. This surgery is not for the faint of heart. 6 week recovery, and is considered the most painful surgery there is – far more painful than heart surgery. It was Hell but there was an end in sight. And my apnea was severe enough to need treatment.
However it cured my snoring. My sleep test last night was to see if I have fully recovered and past the test. I’ll have my results next week. In the mentime, if your soring has gotten worse, you have over a 16 inch neck (female) or 17 inch neck (male) and you feel tired – you too may have sleep apnea. It’s much more common than you think and I know of two women in their 30’s PERSONALLY, who have died from it. Besides you can end up with the fetching pictures after you get wired up. Talk to your doctor about a sleep referral.