Blogs > Sleeping with CPAP

Assistant News Editor Lee Dryden was diagnosed with sleep apnea and uses a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to assist with breathing while sleeping. From a layman’s point of view, he will discuss the benefits, issues, challenges and frustrations of sleeping while wearing a mask.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Somebody’s watching me

After an initial examination where my doctor determined I likely have sleep apnea after seeing my narrow airway, two sleep tests were scheduled.
Since I am a “daysleeper” — as labeled by my doctor since I sleep at odd times due to my unusual work schedule — I was to report to the clinic at 5 a.m. on consecutive Saturday mornings to sleep for eight hours.
It was an adventure the first night when I arrived as everything was dark, it was snowing, no one was answering the phone and I wasn’t quite sure where to enter.
I found an unlocked door in the building so I started walking around before realizing it was some sort of counseling office that I wasn’t supposed to be in. I got out of there quickly without touching anything, which was a wise move as a police car showed up a few minutes later.
Anyway, eventually someone answered the phone and I went in to start my test. I was taken to what looked like a bedroom, told to “get ready for bed,” then sit in a chair. Two technicians proceeded to hook me to an seemingly endless supply of wires that would help them record what my body is doing while asleep.
It was an odd situation to engage in small talk, but the laid-back dudes put me at ease. One commented that my mostly-shaved head was easier to stick the paste that holds the wires to than a recent female patient with a full head of hair. (Ouch)
Once they were finished, I thought there was no way on earth I could sleep with all this crap on as I eased into bed. The technicians left, turned out the light then startled me as one spoke via an intercom and asked me to raise my right arm, presumably to be sure I could hear them and I was hooked up correctly.
It was slightly unnerving to think people are watching me sleep (can you imagine that job?) but they are professionals with a job to do — like figuring out what is happening while I sleep. No, they didn’t draw on me or anything like that.
But, amazingly, despite a bevy of wires, odd surroundings and an audience, I feel asleep quickly.
The next thing I knew, it was eight hours later, a day shift technician threw open the door, turned on the light and efficiently removed all the wires before sending me on my way.
It was a repeat performance the next week except I used a CPAP breathing machine in addition to the wires. I tried on the full facemask —  unlike most people — rather than the smaller nasal pillows that don’t cover the mouth. As somewhat of a mouth breather, I needed the full mask. Others may like not having their mouth covered.
A spreadsheet of data from my tests showed I briefly stopped breathing 60 times per hour without the mask and about once per hour with it.
So it was official, like millions of others, I have sleep apnea and I’d be getting my own sleep machine.


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