Living with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

It’s 4.45am and once again I find myself wide awake and unable to fall back asleep. That’s not through want of trying though! No having awoken from my usual disturbed slumber at the ludicrous time of 3.30am I’ve done all the usual things you do when you wake up in the middle of the night like re-hydrating, going to the toilet, checking Twitter which then led to checking Instagram and my email which then led to me looking at Twitch to see if anyone was streaming and.. Well, going back to sleep was off the agenda the very moment I reached for my phone. 

Waking up that early is a regular occurrence for me though. You see recently I took part in a sleep study that was organised my my local hospital. This followed a referral by my GP after I spoke to her about my issues with constantly feeling exhausted and regular reports from my partner that I was snoring like a flu-ridden grizzly bear every night and keeping her awake.

Anyway, the results of the study suggested that I suffer with something known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. A condition which, in layman’s terms means my breathing is interrupted a large number of times during the night. Sometimes for up to 10 seconds at a time. When that occurs I actually wake up briefly, gasp for air and then go back to sleep, although I’m not generally conscious that I’m doing so. During my sleep study, in which I had to wear an enormous wrist mounted tracking device, it was recorded that I woke up more than 25 times during that one night. Subsequently, I end up feeling exhausted during the daytime and can usually fall asleep at the drop of a hat. If I’m sitting down reading a book or watching television for example I can literally just fall asleep and only realise that I’ve fallen asleep when I wake up feeling somewhat confused an hour or so later.

This was the sleep monitoring machine that I had to wear to sleep during my sleep study. Essentially it monitored my heart rate and the level of oxygen in my blood during a typical night.

So the hospital have come up with a couple of solutions to try and relieve the condition for me. Firstly, and most obviously is that I need to try and lose some weight. To be fair I have put on quite a few stone since being off of work long-term, and of course the daily cocktail of antidepressant medication doesn’t help. I would actually like to lose weight to be fair so that’s something I will definitely try to crack on with once the festive season is our of the way.

The other solution is for me to use something called a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device, or CPAP for short. Those of you that watched the most recent series of Big Brother will recall that Tomasz was given one of these machines early on in the run as he suffered with a similar issue. Essentially it’s a machine that supply’s a continuous flow of compressed air through a face mask which should help prevent my throat closing up during sleep and in theory stop me waking up and gasping for air all night. In turn, this should mean I get a much better nights sleep and my daytime exhaustion should start to ease. 

I have a group masterclass on Thursday this week at the hospital where I’ll be supplied with a machine and taught how to use it correctly. I’m not overly looking forward to having to wear the mask during sleep if I’m honest as, having already had a brief try with one during my last hospital visit I found it to be a really strange sensation. Imagine trying to sleep with your head sticking out of a car window at 70mph and you’ll get a good idea of what it feels like.

Still, if it helps improve my quality of sleep then it’s something that I’m just going to have to get used to. 

If you’ve ever had any experience of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea or any other sleep related disorders I’d love to hear from you. Post a comment below or send me a message on Twitter. All my social links are at the top of the page. 

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