I (used to) snore. Loudly. One time, when I fell asleep before Arb, he took his phone and recorded me snoring, then played it back in my ear until it woke me up. It was ghastly.
I also used to be incredibly tired all the time, and just about never woke up feeling like I’d gotten enough sleep. Most days I felt like I needed a nap, but then the nap wasn’t awfully helpful either. I assumed it was either the remaining depression symptom that my meds just couldn’t help, or else a medication side effect that was worth living with because it beats the hell out of being suicidal.
Arb had been after me for years to do something to treat my snoring, as much for his comfort as mine. I was resistant – not for any good reason, just stubborn. I didn’t want to have to wear one of those Darth Vader mask machines. I didn’t want another chronic illness diagnosis. I didn’t want to be told losing weight would cure it all, when I’ve snored since I was a medium sized, very active teenager.
This summer I finally gave in and got tested for sleep apnea. The link says people with sleep apnea may stop breathing as many as 30 times an hour – the night I was tested, I stopped breathing an average of 47 times an hour (not sure when I actually was breathing), and my blood oxygen saturation was dipping into the low 80%s. That freaked me the hell out, and I agreed to do a trial with a CPAP machine – the dreaded Darth Vader mask.
The first night with the machine, I had a hell of a time getting comfortable. I think I slept two or three hours at the most. And I woke up… feeling rested! It was the weirdest feeling: the thought of getting out of bed didn’t make me want to cry; I was ready to get up and face the day. And that day, I did ALL THE THINGS, without needing a nap.
The next night I slept six hours, and woke up feeling great in the morning again, with no tiredness-hangover from having done all the things the day before. So I got up and did all the things again. And again and again and again. It’s literally been that kind of night and day change. It seems some very large percentage of what I thought was pure laziness, was actually due to untreated sleep apnea.
I will disclose up front, using a CPAP machine is not all kittens and roses. Or maybe it is, complete with claws and thorns:
- You pretty much have to sleep on your back for the mask to seal properly against your skin, which takes some getting used to
- If the seal breaks during the night, you’re woken up by your whole face blowing a raspberry
- The mask and hose make it awkward to fall asleep in your partner’s arms (but hey, your partner won’t be driven to the sofa by your snores; it’s a trade-off)
On the other hand, besides giving you crappy sleep and pissing off your partner, sleep apnea can:
- increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
- increase the risk of heart failure, or if you have heart failure, make it worse
- put you at increased risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents
- may be linked with depression, though causation has not been established
- in rare cases, it can kill you directly
In conclusion, gentle readers, again I urge you, if you snore, or if you are tired all the time and don’t know why, or especially if you have both those symptoms, go get tested for sleep apnea. I’m telling everybody who will listen in hopes that somebody else can be helped as much as I have been.