If anything came off during the night, I would have to get wired up and do the test again. I always had a bit of a snoring problem, but in the five years we had been married, my wife had come to a breaking point. Not only was I snoring loudly enough to keep her awake, (she’s convinced the volume could have attracted extra-terrestrial intelligence), but I was – apparently – periodically gasping for air. I was explicitly told to make sure everything stays on. But at least I couldn't hear her snoring above the machine.
You could use them, sure, but there was no way to track their effectiveness. I use the Resmed Elite 10, which tracks statistics like how many apnea events occur per hour, whether my mask is leaking, whether the seal of the mask is actually tight, and how many hours it was used. It’s an effort to remember to use CPAP every night.
Your body is literally stopping you from breathing – until the brain kicks in before you die. The real danger is that sleep apnea stops your natural sleep cycle. The ultimate goal is to experience a flow through the stages, concluding in REM sleep – that’s when you dream - before cycling back again.
I told this to the young sleep specialist across from me as he considered my condition. Combined with the noises my wife was wearing and my own personal experiences of tiredness, it was likely I had sleep apnea. First up is a test used to diagnose how many “events” I experience during the night. There are multiple ways this can happen, but ultimately the back of your throat – the soft palate – is blocking your airway.
A lot of the old machines couldn’t retain data on whether they were actually working or not. But the first day after using the machine, I was a new man. Like any type of activity required to improve your life, you need a little bit of short-term effort for long-term gain. Shortly after I began CPAP therapy, I woke one morning to find my son moving the hose connected to my mask around like a joystick.
You’d just have them set to the pressure you need to sleep properly, (I had to take a second sleep test in order to figure this out), slip on the mask, and away you go. Now, CPAP machines are digital, robust and able to track more information than ever. Or people who have corrective eye surgery and can finally see the face of a loved one. Before CPAP, I didn’t know what it was like to be awake. I had the mental capacity to have longer conversations. By the time you hit 40 years old, that snoring could be putting you at risk of a heart attack. But when I’m tired, I know that it’s not my body’s way of crying for help – my heart isn’t straining to pump blood through my lungs. Especially if it’s too early for her to get up just yet – she loves her sleep.