When I went to my doctors to go over the results of the sleep study I had, I had a lot of questions. Luckily my doctor is one who loves to educate and explain everything to his patients. It a big part of the reason I drive so far to see him.
My doctor wanted to go through the results of the first night of the study first than look at night two. He said, "before we do that Georgie, you need to understand what Sleep Apnea is and how it affects your heart."
Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing during sleep. The study shows how many times I stop breathing in an hour. You are solid if you have less than 5 events an hour. That means if you stop breathing 5 times an hour or less you are considered normal. Crazy, right!?
So every 90 seconds I stop breathing. 41 times an hour I wake myself up gasping for air. No wonder I am dead tired all the time.
"You did break the recond and won an award for the fastest time to sleep. You went to sleep in 3.5 minutes!" My doctor loves to tell me this kind of stuff. I told him I thought that was compliment on my efficiency but he said, "It's because you are always tired." Which makes a lot more sense.
Not breathing seems like a big deal, and it is. Sleep Apnea is associated with Diabetes, Stroke, memory issues, weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Not to mention accidents due to sleep depravation.
Now I understand Stroke and Memory stuff since less oxygen could lead to brain damage. But how does it tie into heart disease? My doctor explained it to me.
Our heart pumps of course while we are sleeping. A slow steady pace it goes and we rest. When someone with Sleep Apnea stops breathing and takes in too little oxygen the brain kicks into survival mode.
"Hey Heart, we are not getting enough oxygen in this body so could you pump that blood a little faster please?" That is what I pictured the brain saying.
So as the heart increases its pumping rate it is in turn raising blood pressure. When you enter into a state like this your body releases adrenaline to keep that heart pumping fast. That causes stress on your body which can restrict blood vessels and cause blood pressure to raise even more. Not to mention heart disease.
"It's like God gave your heart a certain number of beats and you are wasting a lot of them every night." That was how my doctor put it.
I saw the print out of what my heart was doing and it looked crazy. My heart was speeding up and slowing down and speeding up over and over again. I could not believe it. Just by looking at it I knew something was wrong. My doctor explained that you didn't want a readout like that but rather a smooth straight line.
He then showed me how many times I actually made it to real REM sleep. The sleep that refreshes and reenergizes our bodies. I had 3 instances that all lasted less than 5 minutes each. It's no wonder I feel the way I do.
Then it was time to look at the second night of the study. The night when I wore the CPAP machine.
Times I stopped breathing was 1.2 per hour. My heart was steady and smooth all night. And I should mention I had 5 nice long sections of REM sleep.
Now I am waiting on insurance to get me all cleared for starting on the CPAP machine. I am looking forward to life after a real nights sleep. Something tells me that a better rested ninja is a much more alert ninja.
If you are falling asleep all the time during the day you may want to get checked out. I was a real eye opener to see how little I slept. Pun intended.
And treating your Sleep Apnea will not only give you a goods nights sleep, but anyone in earshot of your snoring!