But, I do want to circle back and talk briefly about why treatment for sleep apnea is so important. Make no mistake -- I hate using a CPAP machine. There are some times when I put off going to bed just because I don't want to put that $#*@&# mask on. However, I'm caught in a hate-love quandry: I hate the machine but I love breathing. So, for that, I go to bed looking like Mrs. Snufalufagus.
Besides keeping me breathing -- here are the other things CPAP therapy can do for a person:
- Reduce the strain of oxygen deprivation on your heart. Those momentary pauses without oxygen cause your blood pressure to go up, which is hard on your heart.
- Make you more feel more rested...because you are. That's what happens when you're not waking up 79 times (+/-) an hour.
- Make you more alert in your waking hours. Even on the nights I don't get as many hours of sleep as I should, I feel so much more alert, more mentally with it than I did when I would "sleep" more hours without the CPAP machine.
- Possibly (hopefully) help fight the battle of the bulge. Maybe it's just me, but when I'm tired, I eat more during the day, especially sugary stuff that might give me a surge of energy. And losing weight, if you are overweight, almost always improves sleep apnea. So said the doc.
- Reduce acid reflux. The pulmonologist explained to me that when you inhale hard several times, gasping for air (which is what happens those 79 times an hour), it loosens the grip of the sphincter muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. That allows stomach acids to make their way back up which is no fun and over the long-term can lead to a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus.
- Improve your marriage because your spouse won't be so crabby at you for snoring all night long. And you won't be so crabby at everyone around you because you won't be so flipping tired. Seriously, the doctor said they see symptoms of depression improve in people who start CPAP therapy for sleep apnea.
So, my public service announcement of the night is this: If you think you might have sleep apnea -- if you never feel rested, if you snore so much that you bother others or even wake yourself up (guilty), if you wake up with a sore throat or a swollen uvula (that hanging thing at the back of your throat) -- talk to your doctor about having a sleep study done. If nothing else, consider it a chance to get a night to yourself. You can read about my sleep study, complete with crazy wired up pictures, here.