Health Team

Sleep apnea testing can make resting easier

Posted November 4, 2011

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— Clocks will move backward one hour this Sunday morning, giving everyone an extra hour of sleep. But for people suffering from sleep apnea, the most common sleep disorder, even an extra hour of sleep won’t cure daytime drowsiness.

That’s because sleep apnea has little to do with how long a person sleeps. It’s about how well, or in these cases not well, they are able to rest.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, either by a blockage of the airway or because the brain can’t correctly signal the muscles to breathe.

Sleep apnea is increasing in frequency, mainly due to the growing trend of obesity.

Brandon Devers, 24, suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, the more common of the two disorders. He said he always attributed his tiredness and headaches to his overnight hours at work. Until he fell asleep at the wheel and was in a car accident, he had no idea he had sleep apnea.

“My issues were mainly snoring and I was mainly tired throughout the day,” he said. “And I figured it was due to me working a lot of shift hours.”

Sleep study can solve drowsiness mystery Sleep study can solve drowsiness mystery

Devers underwent a sleep study, where the brain waves and breathing are monitored overnight. He had mild obstructive sleep apnea and was falling asleep 12 times every hour gasping for air.

Dr. Yvette Cook, with the Rex Sleep Disorders Center in Garner, said Devers’ type of sleep apnea can be life threatening if left untreated.

“It increases your risk of heart attack and stroke,” she said.

After his study Devers was fitted with a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine, which is designed to help improve breathing. The CPAP helps keep the airway from collapsing.

“It puts a lot of pressure, air pressure into the upper airway and splints it open to keep the airway open and the person breathes in through the mask,” Cook said.

Since being fitted for his CPAP Devers said the frequent headaches and tiredness he used to suffer from are no longer an issue.

“It's a complete 360 degree, you know, I've completely turned around to where I have no issues staying up throughout the day,” he said. “I don't wake up with headaches anymore. My headaches are completely gone.”

Overweight people who have snoring issues and suffer from daytime drowsiness are candidates to be tested for sleep apnea. A personal physician may refer patients to sleep specialists or a sleep study.


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  • Here2tellya Nov 10, 2011

    Children should be checked too. My son who just turned 16 and is NOT obese has it so severe he was waking up between 60-93 times an hour. That's every MINUTE or more. They took out his tonsils and adenoids and we do a follow up sleep study tonite to check the improvement. Hopefully it will be enough to where he doesn't need a cpap. He's dreaming more and snoring less! Thank GOD!

  • Follow_The_Money27617 Nov 9, 2011

    Everybody, regardless of your health, if you take a sleep test, youi WILL have sleep apnea and need a CPAP machine! I have ever heard of anyone taking the test and not having sleep apnea.
    Disabled Vet

    Your ignorance spreads beyond politics. Thank you for verifying my previous thoughts.

  • mikeyj Nov 8, 2011

    I tried without my cpap one night and awoke at 0400 with a level 10 headache that made me start the morning of with Tylenol 3 in my system. I asked for help from my neuro because even with my seizure meds I was still feeling awful. He submitted the test and it found I was so bad my O2 was plumetting. I am now cpap and O2. Makes me feel like 20's again.

  • common tater Nov 8, 2011

    This field has a long way to go. I sleep better with the machine, but it took a few years of trying different masks to get one that could be adjusted not to blow air out around the edges. The rep said "they all leak"...but if air is just blowing out into space, what's the point...not to mention the noise and discomfort of the "leaks". They should have a process for custom-fit masks. I had to quickly go on-line and find out how to adjust the pressure a little so the mask didn't blow off my face with every breath. Just requested a new machine a few weeks ago(current one sounds like a freight train) after 5 yrs, and was told I had to do another sleep study. So I spent a miserable night...without a cpap all night...slept maybe an hour. So they figure the severe apnea went away on it's own? Crazy. I hope they come up with an easy surgery that can fix it. Also, they need to test for just the apnea. I'm pretty sure all the wires connected to my legs had nothing to do with apnea, bu

  • Jenb64 Nov 7, 2011

    I started using a CPAP 3 years ago and feel so much better than I did. Found out that my brain "wakes up" 50 times an hour when I am not using. No wonder I never felt rested! I also stopped breathing almost every 30-40 second. Now I can feel better with less sleep. I also get less colds, don't feel the need to nod off constantly and my daily headaches are gone.

    I knew I snored, but it wasn't until I had to have a medical procedure done and the nurse told me immediately after waking up that I had apnea and needed to get it checked right away. If she hadn't, I may have never gone. I also have found out that I have heart damage which is of unknown origin, but could likely have been from years of apnea that was untreated.

    Also, my husband had the test and would found to stop breathing 6 times an hour so he didn't require a machine. So, no, everyone does not get one.

  • Southern Gal Nov 7, 2011

    The CPAP machine is the best thing my husband ever did for his health... EVER!
    He sleeps much better.
    His mood has improved greatly. He thinks more clearly and is sharp as a tack again.
    He does not get respiratory infections nearly as often.
    ***He does not snore any more... which helps me sleep and improve my disposition, too!

    The machines have made a lot of progress in the last few years.... they are virtually quiet while in use. Yes, it's true the CPAP face mask is not a joy to wear, but after perservering thru the initial few weeks to acclimate to it, the benefits by far outweigh the inconvenience.
    CPAP machine is a non-drug solution to many health problems.

    From personal experience, I can't recommend a CPAP machine strongly enough if you truly suffer from sleep apnea.

  • gopack10 Nov 7, 2011

    Many of those suspected of having sleep apnea will have at least one episode during the sleep study test but that does not mean you will get a CPAP machine. The testing is done and calculates the number of events, length of events, severity, etc. They can also do a titration study with a CPAP on and alter the settings to see if it improves. Many times people's spouses report it or the individual will present will fatigue or exhaustion upon waking despite sleeping all night. It can be a serious problem but usually if the individual is overweight, a weight loss of at least 10% can eliminate the problem.

  • warcraft27513 Nov 7, 2011

    Everybody, regardless of your health, if you take a sleep test, youi WILL have sleep apnea and need a CPAP machine! I have ever heard of anyone taking the test and not having sleep apnea.-Disabled Vet

    I love seeing comments from people that have absolutely no clue what they are talking about. You, sir/madam, or whatever you are, are about as wrong as wrong can be. 1) If your Dr doesn't suspect you have sleep apnea, he will not refer you to a sleep lab for the sleep test. 2) Not everyone who takes the sleep test is diagnosed with sleep apnea. 3) Those that ARE diagnosed, do not always get CPAP machines. Whether or not you need a machine depends on the number of hypopnea and apnea events that you have during the sleep test.
    Learn your facts before you speak, you won't look so stupid next time.

  • Raleighmomof3 Nov 7, 2011

    well, perhaps the only people taking the test are suspected of having sleep apnea. I doubt they give it to people not showing symptoms, so perhaps it serves to confirm what was already suspected.

  • Disabled Vet Nov 7, 2011

    Everybody, regardless of your health, if you take a sleep test, youi WILL have sleep apnea and need a CPAP machine! I have ever heard of anyone taking the test and not having sleep apnea.