Do you suffer from chronic snoring? Do you doze off at work, while on the phone or even while driving?
You just might be suffering from a disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes fragmented sleep and low blood oxygen levels- if left untreated it can lead to hypertension, heart disease, mood and memory problems and the list goes on.
During National Sleep Awareness Week, March 7-13, the National Sleep Foundation and Southern Ohio Medical Center hope to educate the community on the importance of sleep. Jill Carr of West Portsmouth was falling asleep in the middle of conversations, she could hardly make it to work because of exhaustion and her tongue would stick to the roof of her mouth every morning.
One day a coworker asked why she yawned so much and after further discussion, they suggested a sleep study. “I called my doctor and scheduled a sleep study at the SOMC Sleep Diagnostic Center,” Carr said. “I was so nervous and thought how can I sleep all night knowing that someone is watching me but surprisingly the staff made me feel so comfortable and now I use a CPAP machine to help me breath at night. It’s made a world of difference.” Robin Polley of Vanceburg shared a different experience. She would stay awake until 4 a.m. without sleeping.
Dr. Sarah Porter of the SOMC Vanceburg Family Practice and Specialty Associates arranged for Polley to have a sleep study. “I was really scared but the respiratory therapist made me feel better by talking to me about church and my hobbies,” Polley said. “They even let my husband stay at the sleep center so he wouldn’t have to drive back to Vanceburg in the snow. It was convenient and they treated us wonderfully.” Sleep apnea is more common than you think. Nearly 1 in every 15 Americans has some form of sleep apnea but most cases are undiagnosed. According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, roughly 38,000 annual cardiovascular deaths are in some way related to sleep apnea. Robert Kinker of Portsmouth woke up gasping for air and knew that his difficulty breathing and exhaustion was something he couldn’t control and needed to seek medical attention.
Dr. Martin arranged Kinker a sleep test at the SOMC Sleep Center. “Christina at the Sleep Center put me at ease before my test started. She explained that they would evaluate my breathing and stages of my sleep,” Kinker said. “I didn’t even get to the second stage because my oxygen levels dropped to a very dangerous and low 70 in the first hour of my sleep. I went home after my test and had a CPAP machine at my house by 2 p.m. that afternoon.” Kinker emotionally added, “The SOMC Sleep Center saved my life. I can talk all day about how excellent my experience was and how much better I feel now that I use my machine at night but I could have died in my sleep and they saved my life. You can’t put a price on that and I really, really appreciate it.” If you suffer from drowsiness, lack of sleep, exhaustion, snoring, mood swings or lack of concentration, you might be a candidate for a sleep study. Ask your family physician if you need a sleep study referral. For more information, please call the SOMC Sleep Diagnostic Center at 740-356-8822.