I had always thought of having sleep apnea as having to wear a ridiculous contraption of a mask that looked like it had come out of the realm of Star Wars when I went to bed. We’ve all seen it on a comedy of some sort, but Sleep Apnea can potentially be a serious disease that can lead to an array of symptoms. Sleep is precious to us, as it allows our bodies and minds to recover from the stresses of the day.
According to WedMD.com, symptoms of sleep apnea are as follows:
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Sleepiness while driving
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
- Recurrent awakenings or insomnia
I had never thought about having Sleep Apnea, although I knew I snore consistently and some other symptoms. It wasn’t until I went to a sleep specialist and got a sleep study done that I found that I do, in fact, have sleep apnea. There were two remedies given to me:
1.) CPAP Machine – This machine forces air into your body via a face mask that covers your mouth and nose, usually. Modern machines aren’t as loud as older models and can easily be mobilized for travel use (Mine even came with a special bag). With the new machines you can also alter certain levels such as the temperature of the water used, the pressure sent through the hose and even view certain statistics. The face mask can be uncomfortable and takes some getting used to. Talk to your specialist to find a mask that is suitable and comfortable to you.
2.) Mouth Mold – A much more mobile device, the Mouth Mold is placed in the mouth at bed time to keep the airway open. It is very uncomfortable (To me it was, at least), but it is made specially to conform to your mouth.
There are some variables that can play into having sleep apnea and treating and/or curing it. Two of these being if you are overweight and if you’re a smoker. Losing weight and cutting the cigarettes from your daily life can be beneficial for not helping with sleep apnea, but with your overall health. However, this doesn’t mean that they will, without a doubt, cure you, as not all sleep apnea is purely physical. There are two types of sleep apnea: Central, which is when the brain fails to control breathing properly when sleeping; and Obstructive, which is when the throat muscles become too relaxed, not allowing adequate air to pass through.
Although I’ve read that some sleep aids are not beneficial since they can relax the throat muscles, I’ve found, personally, that sleep apnea ruins my circadian rhythm. Taking Melatonin (Always consult your health care provider prior to taking any supplements) was beneficial for me when it came to getting a deeper, more sound sleep at times. There are also other sleep aids out there. Used in conjunction with the CPAP Machine or Mouth Mold, it could be beneficial for you.
As for the sleep study itself, don’t fret. Mine was even a take home monitor that strapped to my chest and had some wires and nasal cannula tubes that went into my nose. Was it very comfortable? No. But it helped me, personally, that I was in the comfort of my own home. All I had to do was return the device thereafter. Other people may go to a facility to get a sleep study done where professionals monitor your sleep for a night.
Other than that, try finding other variables that can help benefit your sleep, such as the positioning of your body into a more natural manner, keeping a sleep diary, recording your sleep and/or getting feedback from your partner, and so on.