My topic for today is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. About six weeks ago, I decided to have a sleep study myself to see what one felt like. Also, I had been so tired and could not seem to get enough rest, no matter what I did. To my surprise and, as it turns out, to my delight, I had severe sleep apnea. For several years, I have observed as my patients tell me how much better they feel when their CPAP works. Now, I can add myself to the list of those successfully treated.
When I reflect on my life, I have always been sleepy and tired. Never was a morning person, I thought that was just a variation in how we all respond to life. Now, I know that the problem was sleep apnea. I wake up awake and ready to do whatever needs to be done. Even when I was very thin, the problems waking up were still with me. That personal experience has left me with a theory. Perhaps some obese people had sleep apnea problems first and that caused the weight, not the other way around.
When our bodies cannot obtain enough of the restorative sleep, it affects our energy, our immune systems, our appetites and the way we think, among other things. Anatomic variations lead to narrowing of the airway. Our brains can tell that we are not breathing enough and have to wake us up so that we will breath adequately. Some of us are aware of waking up, that is called insomnia. Others are not aware of waking up and say that they sleep just fine. The key symptoms appear to be problems waking up in the morning and excessive tiredness or sleepiness. Some people have snoring, but that is not a universal symptom. The other problem that does not seem to be well known is chronic shortness of breath. If you have any of these problems, I encourage you to see someone about having a sleep study done. You, too, might find new energy and a new outlook like I have.