Sleep Apnea

Aroy | 5:16

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"I was tired all the time… I would fall asleep in my classes."

Snoring Fatigue Under Developed Airways CPAP

Story Transcript

So, I am a 28-year-old female. I am a normal-sized, normal-weight person for my age group and my height, and I have sleep apnea. It's something that's very unusual for somebody, specifically women as well as petite women to have and that's why it was so shocking when it was found out. When I was younger I snored, as a baby I was a snorer, and as I grew older, we always just kind of laughed it off... "She snores a lot, you know, roll over. Maybe it'll help." Once I got into high school and the pressure is on with a lot of other activities, we found that I was tired all the time. So throughout the day, I would fall asleep in all my classes. I would go home from school and immediately go to bed and take a nap for at least two hours, and that makes it very hard to do after school activities. Keep up with your homework, keep up with your projects. So, I had a very unhealthy sleep cycle and I would sleep as many hours as I possibly could.

The day that it finally hit a head, I was just starting to learn how to drive, and I was driving with my father for about 20 minutes on the highway and he was in the passenger seat and I was in the driver's seat and he looked over and he saw that I was starting to doze off. So that was the first sign that my excessive napping was actually the sign of a real problem. So right away my father said, "Pull over, I need to get into the driver's seat. Does this happen a lot?" And I said, "Well, yeah, I mean, if I get into longer stretches, I can start to feel a little tired. And I mean, you know I nap all the time." So when we got home, he spoke to my mother and he said, "You know, there's something more to the sleeping problem. I think maybe we need to talk to somebody." So I went to a doctor and we got talking about my snoring as well. My boyfriend had also always complained that I snored a lot and it was unusual, and sure enough, they sent me in for a sleep study. And after three sleep studies. They discovered that I had a number of occurrences throughout the night, where I would wake up. And when you have sleep apnea, when you are sleeping you are snoring and it gets to a point, where you're snoring so much and the reason you're snoring is because your airway is collapsing. You get into such a relaxed state that everything is smaller and finally, you will wake up. And there were may be times that you wake up throughout the night. So you will end up waking up between 20 and 30 times. So you actually never get a fully restful sleep. And that's what they found with me. They found that there were a number of occurrences, where I would essentially choke and wake up. And that's what everybody that has sleep apnea typically goes through. But the main question was, "Why? Why her? Why does she have this? She is a small person. She is in very good shape. She's young, she's a female. She literally matches none of the criteria." And it turns out that actually being a small person is part of it as well. And this is a lesser known fact about sleep apnea is that if you're small, you sometimes have underdeveloped airways, and those underdeveloped airways, then are easily able to constrict while you're sleeping. So, that was what they found with me was that when I was falling asleep my airway would constrict, and then I wouldn't breathe, which would then cause the waking up.

So finally, after the diagnosis was in place, they were able to provide treatment, and that treatment was through the very sexy CPAP. So CPAP is a mask that goes over your face. Mine happens to cover my nose and my mouth. There are some that are less invasive, but I found those to be very uncomfortable. The ones that just go on your nose, I found hurt my nose, something horrible. So I have one that covers my nose and face, and I sleep with it every night, and that has allowed me to live a normal life. I soon found that I didn't need a nap every single day, and part of my daily routine was taking a nap. So I have been using a CPAP now for about 12 years, and I've never looked back. I've had a number of people saying, "There must be a better way. There must be a surgery. There must be something," but no surgery is guaranteed to fix sleep apnea. And to be honest, I'm doing great with my CPAP. I love it. I need it at this point to fall asleep. It is just a reaction. I put it on. I fall asleep. I sleep wonderful and I'm a 100% compliant. My sleep doctors always say that I should be the poster child for sleep apnea. I travel with it and everything. When you travel, you can bring it on board on the plane because it is essential for me to have a good quality of life, especially on vacation. I need to use my CPAP.