Image via WikipediaBack in July, I started the process of getting checked out for sleep apnea. I had my first sleep study done on July 27th. Two weeks later, I received a call stating that they needed me to go in for a second study. At first, I thought something had gone wrong with the first study, but instead they told me I had mild to moderate sleep apnea and they wanted to see how I would respond to a CPAP machine.
On August 11th, I had my second sleep study so they could determine if the CPAP machine was the right treatment for my sleep apnea. It usually takes a couple weeks to get the results back from the study as they have a lot of data to analyze. Two weeks ago, I received a call from the doctor's office that runs the sleep clinic saying I needed to schedule an appointment to go over the results.
He proceeded to explain to me how when we are awake, that the air opening in our throat remain open because we are alert. When we sleep, our muscles relax, and the opening narrows. In my particular case, due to the shape and position of my chin and jaw causes my throat passage to be a little more narrow than average. When sleeping, the passages can completely block the passage.
He then went over each of the two sleep studies with me. First, he showed me the charts of the initial study. He could identify each episode that occurred throughout the evening when my air passages were blocked and I stopped breathing. During each occurrence, he showed me how my heart rate increased and my oxygen level dropped. These episodes happened several times over the course of the night.
Another thing that he showed me from the initial report were incidents that he called "brain arousals." Each time that my air passages were blocked and I stopped breathing, the brain responded. I would wake up enough for the brain to send a message out that would allow me to breath again, without fully gaining consciousness. It was a lot of stress through the night, so no wonder I never feel refreshed when waking.
Next, he showed me the results of the study with the use of the CPAP machine. Through out the night, they monitored my snoring and as my snoring would increase, they would increase the air pressure from the CPAP machine. In the early part of the evening, I had more blockage episodes, but as they increased the pressure, those episodes decreased to less than one per hour. This way, they would be able to identify the proper pressure to set the CPAP machine to.
The doctor said that normally with my mild sleep apnea, he would recommend some lifestyle changes including weight loss. However, due to some other conditions that I have such as my high blood pressure and a history of blood clots his recommendation is to treat the sleep apnea with the CPAP device. My insurance requires that I get my machine through another company other than the clinic doing the study so I was unable to get my machine right away. I should have it early next week. I am anxious to see if if it helps.