To sleep, perchance to dream

So if you’ve ever had to sleep near me, you’d realize that I’m a snorer. According to my wife Renee, a really loud snorer. Before we got married, I promised her that I’d look into finding a way to reduce the snoring. I tried all the throat sprays, nasal passageway strips, etc. Nothing really worked better than a placebo. I went to see my family physician about it and he sent me to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist. I don’t ever really feel tired or feel like I stop breathing through the night, but the ENT doc suggested that I have a sleep study done. Insurance will pay for the study and if necessary a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. If it is “just cosmetic” snoring then they could remove tissue in the back of my throat but insurance won’t cover it. So I went to the sleep study last night.

I have to say that I had preconceived notions of what the study would be like. It was a sci-fi movie with a pretty spartan room, one-way glass, and sensors all over my body. One out of three ain’t bad for reality. I’m still wearing the glue for the 10 or so sensors they put on my scalp. There are a few hairless places on my legs and chest after those sensors were removed. All-in-all there were about 20 wires coming from various locations into a 2″x4″ box that then ran into a computer. The room was nicely decorated with private bath, sort of like a nice hotel. There was no TV in the room, which prompted me to try and get to sleep earlier than usual.  A camera was mounted by the doorway aimed at the bed.

Once I was wired up and in bed, the sleep technician had me do a series of movements. Look up and down, left and right, wiggle my toes, blink repeatedly, breathe in and out, etc.  Then, with a bunch of wires and tubes, I had to go to sleep. I found this pretty much impossible. I could sleep on my side in one direction and changing sides was difficult due to the different cords and their tension. I was acutely aware of being in a strange place and being watched. It was pretty disconcerting. I think I got about an hour of sleep during this first half. From that, I guess I matched the protocols for sleep apnea, because they then had me wear a CPAP machine. My boss had told me how it worked wonders for his brother, so I had an open mind about it. The technician warned me that my brain was going to lie to me and make me want to rip it off immediately, but in about 10 minutes I’d adjust. He was pretty much right. Initially, I hated it. The device essentially creates a seal around your nose and is blowing slightly above room pressure into it. You are supposed to breathe normally in and out, but throught your nose only. Alas, I’m a mouth breather. When you open your mouth, you change the airflow pattern and it feels like you are sucking down water. You aren’t, of course, but that’s the closest feeling I can think of, a sheer panic attack sets in. It only lasts a second and dissipates when you close your mouth and the pathway resumes normalcy. Once I put it on, it took about 2-3 hours to get back to sleep. I’d feel like I’d gotten the hang of it, then I’d open my mouth and have to start all over again. At around 5:45 am I woke up and the technician ended the study.

I’m not sure what to think of my experience. Obviously, I’m at risk for sleep apnea as it was stated before that they only do the CPAP test if you meet certain criteria. I have to wait 7-10 days to get the results from the study back. Almost certainly, they’re going to recommend that I get a CPAP machine. It’ll be something that takes some getting used to, but I did make a promise and apnea can have some pretty serious long-term consequences. I’m running on about 3 hours of fits-and-starts sleep right now, so I’m sure that this posting is pretty incoherent.


~ by shaunkime on August 2, 2008.

3 Responses to “To sleep, perchance to dream”

  1. Shaun, I used to snore a lot too, at least if my wife is to be believed. I had my tonsils and uvula(that stalactite in the back of your mouth) removed last year for other reasons, but a side effect was that my snoring stopped.
    Seriously, I didn’t think the snoring affected me, since I could easily forget that I did it, but I noticed a change in the way I sleep immediately, or once I came off the post-op drugs rather.

    Nice blog BTW.

  2. Jon,
    What was the tonsilectomy like? That may well be one of my options, but the doctor indicated that it would be 2-3 weeks out of work to do it, which seems insanely long for an out-patient procedure.


  3. It was pretty bad, actually. I was out of work for a week straight, but even the second week, I left early on a couple days. Also, I had to keep speech to a minimum at meetings, or I’d loose my voice after 5 minutes). I didn’t realize that it’s a much bigger deal for adults. Heh, I can IM you rather than post more gory details on your blog 🙂 Of the two major surgeries I have had recently, the tonsils were the easy one. They do give you really good meds, so while you are in a lot of pain, the first week especially, you usually don’t mind it 😉 I had stocked up on some old ps2 games to play for that week at home, but found myself having a hard time understanding the tutorials once I was good and medicated 😉 I hadn’t considered that. My wife got a kick out of it.

    I can say for Renee’s sake it’s better to do it now, before you guys have any kids. My poor wife had three babies to take care of for a while, instead of two.

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