Friday 28 March 2014

Sleep apnea

I haven't been sleeping well the last couple of years.  It either takes me a long time (a couple hours) to get to sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night wide awake (sometimes for hours).  Needless to say, I'm tired all the time and my energy level is low.  It's been a long time since I've had a long restful sleep.  I'm tired of being tired.

My doctor sent me for a sleep test on March 12. To prepare, I had to track my activity for two weeks before ... so when I went to bed and got up, how long I slept (that's the shaded part) and when/if I have caffeine, alcohol and sleeping pills.  I don't drink a lot of caffeine (I don't drink coffee) or take sleeping pills.

I had to check in at St. Mike's at 7:45pm.  There was a lengthy question to complete about my health and habits.

There were six sleep labs (and all were full ... there is a four month waiting list).  Here was mine (each had its own washroom).

The computer wasn't on
I'd brought my Kobo

Melanie was my tech and she was great ... she was friendly and answered all my many questions.  She got me wired up and ready to go ... six on the face, nine on the back of the head, one on the neck, two on the chest, two on each shin, straps on the chest and stomach (to monitor breathing), air flow tube in nose and a sensor a finger.

All the wires go into this, which plugs into the system

When I was ready to sleep, I let Melanie know by turning off the light and she turned all the monitoring on.  In addition, there is a camera in the room so she could watch me.  If I needed to go to the bathroom, I would have had to call Melanie so she could unhook me so I could get out of bed and then hook me back up again.

I read 'til 11ish and turned off the light.  The strange bed and many attached wires didn't make it easy to sleep.  It was hard to get uncomfortable because of the thing in my nose and the nubs of the cables sticking in my head, face and neck.  It took me a couple hours to get to sleep. 

I woke up at 5:27am. You have to leave by 6am so I let Melanie know I was awake and ready to go (I figured I wouldn't get back to sleep anyway).  Before I left, I had to complete a questionnaire re how much sleep I think I got, did I dream, was it a restful sleep, etc.

Needless to say, not a great sleep.


I went on March 19 for the follow-up to get my results:
  • I'd slept for 278 minutes (4.6 hours) which was 69% of the time they were monitoring me.
  • I had a "stable" sleep after 1am.
  • I had a mild to moderate snore.
  • I had leg "kicks" (restless legs).  Normal is five times an hour ... I had them an average of 27 times an hour.
  • I have severe sleep apnea.  It's normal to stop breathing about five times an hour.  I stopped breathing an average of 44 times an hour and it was worse when I was in a "dream" state.

With sleep apnea, if you wake up, you should be able to right back to sleep.  Sometimes I can't and I'm awake for hours so the doctor suspects I also have insomnia.

As long as I have sleep apnea, I'll have to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine when I sleep which will keep my airway open (so I won't stop breathing and will go into a deep sleep).


Rather than spending another night at the hospital getting monitored for the settings for my CPAP machine, I borrowed an APAP (automatic positive airway pressure) machine on March 21 for a week. 

I put my phone there so you can see how small the APAP machine is
Distilled water goes in the chamber,
which slides into the bottom of the APAP machine
It doesn't take up too much space on my night stand
I looked at three masks and I tried this one for a week

For the first 20 minutes, there is air pressure but it kicks in stronger after that (after is assumes I'm asleep).  It took a bit to get used to it but I didn't find it too much of a hindrance.  Gord fell asleep within five minutes so it obviously didn't bother him too much.

It was nice to wake up Saturday morning without a vicious headache ... and I felt like I'd had a fairly decent sleep most nights.


I returned the APAP machine today and got my CPAP machine (which looks just like the APAP machine).

The tech took readings from the APAP machine.  I had woken up an average of two times an hour when I was using the APAP machine ... quite a change from an average of 44 times an hour without the machine!

The total cost of the CPAP machine (I upgraded so it could provide data collection, auto on/off, etc.), mask, humidifer chamber, insulating hose cover (to reduce condensation), filters, etc. was $1,485.  The province of Ontario provides a rebate of $645 every five years so my cost was $840.  I'm on Gord's insurance plan where he works so it should be covered.


Sleep apnea affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping, jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythm. So you spend more time in light sleep and less time in the deep, restorative sleep you need to be energetic, mentally sharp and productive the next day.

This chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration and an increased risk of accidents. Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems over time including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and weight gain.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea:
  • Pauses occur while you snore and choking or gasping follow the pauses
  • Fighting sleepiness during the day, at work or while driving
  • Rapidly falling asleep during the quiet moments of the day when you're not active
  • Morning headaches
  • Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
  • Feeling irritable, depressed or having mood swings or personality changes 
  • Waking up frequently to urinate 
  • Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up

You have a higher risk for sleep apnea:
  • Your airway may be blocked or narrowed during sleep because your throat muscles tend to relax more than normal
  • Overweight 
  • Male 
  • Related to someone who has sleep apnea
  • Over the age of 65
  • A smoker 
  • Certain physical attributes, such as having a thick neck, deviated septum, receding chin, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Allergies or other medical conditions that cause nasal congestion and blockage


Masshole Mommy said...

My doctor wanted me to take one of thee, but I know being in a strange place, I would get a terrible nights sleep and the test would be useless.

Teena in Toronto said...

That was my concern too, Mommy, and I had a crappy sleep. But at least they have some data to work with.

Anonymous said...

I have the worst sleep habits ever. With back pain that wakes me hourly, I usually get out of bed and have to walk a bit before I can get comfy again. I think these sleep tests would be far more effective if they were able to monitor sleep in our usual environments. Hopefully they'll have some answers for you Teena.
Cheers, Teresa

Sarah said...

I hope they give you the answers. I suffered something very similar last year, I would find it hard to fall asleep or wake up at 5 am and not get back to sleep. For me what helped was eating a small meal before bed.

Isabel said...

It'll be interesting to see what the results are. Do they consider you might have had a hard time sleeping there?

Rosie said...

Good for you for doing the test. Lack of proper sleep takes such an awful toll on health, emotional well-being, and affects everything in our lives. Will be interesting to see what they tell you Teena!

Fizzgig said...

omg! i have always wondered how one sleeps in a sleep clinic! but good thing you got tested! that is really scarey to stop breathing 45 times an hour!! And not sleeping well can affect everything in your life!