Sleep apnea is a destroyer. In fact, if not treated and gotten under control, it can be deadly. But long before that it destroys your health, nibbles away at your life style, ruins relationships, causes poor performance at work and eventually takes away your ability to earn a decent living. In short, it sucks all the enjoyment out of your day to day activities. Even shorter: Sleep apnea sucks!
This is why I find it so upsetting when people tell me "I can't get used to using CPAP. I quit," or "I had a sleep study and they told me I needed to be on CPAP but I don't think I can handle that." I even had one person tell me they wouldn't use CPAP because they "didn't look sexy in it." Well isn't that just too bad. A person doesn't look too sexy drowsing his or her life away either.
However, other people tell me how using the machine every night has changed their lives. They've gone from an almost vegetable-like existence with no energy or ambition to almost their former abilities. Wonderful! This is great news to hear.
If you think you may have apnea, do everything in your power to get it under control. If you smoke, quit. Don't use alcohol. If you're overweight, consider a weight loss plan. And have a sleep study done. That will determine just how severe the apnea is, and what treatment is required.
Remember, you are doing this, not only for yourself, but for your family and friends. It's hard on them seeing you so listless day after day. It's frustrating trying to carry on a conversation with someone who may drift off to sleep mid-sentence. Besides the excessive sleepiness, a person with sleep apnea suffers from mood swings, irritability and depression. These are things that can lead to a disappointing or even explosive family situation.
And it's hell for the spouse who lies awake at night unable to sleep because of your snoring. He or she may be forced out of your bed and even into another room to try to sleep. But guess what? Your spouse probably won't be able to sleep even then. Instead, he or she will lie awake listening for you, wondering if you're all right. Worrying.
If you drive, you're endangering not only yourself, but anyone who rides with you or even shares the same road. Falling asleep at the wheel is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents, and someone suffering from sleep apnea will definitely do just that sooner or later.
Researchers at the Sleep Disorders Center of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. have studied the effect obstructive sleep apnea has on life style. They agree that health and life in general are adversely affected by the disorder, but their area of interest for this study was the way sleep apnea affected sexual functions.
30 people - 27 men and three women, took part in the test. All were victims of obstructive sleep apnea. All filled out questionnaires about their sexual functions at the start of the study, and again at the end of the study, after three months of CPAP use.
The study did indicate that people with sleep apnea do suffer from varying degrees of sexual dysfunction. But, with the use of CPAP, in some areas sexual functions improved and sexual drive increased.
Here is yet another reason to use your CPAP. Intimacy is an important part of life. Don't let sleep apnea destroy it.
Let's face it. Sleep apnea is a progressive disease. It's not going to disappear. So if we can't eliminate it, we must learn to cope with it, and the best way to cope is to become accustomed to using your CPAP equipment.
Many people who suffer from sleep apnea lead a nearly normal life, but first the disorder must be controlled. And there are ways to do that. Research is continually finding new and better equipment, new and better masks. Take advantage of what's available.
Kevin wrote me that: "Navy policy used to be that sleep apnea is a discharging condition. Aircraft carriers and some of the other larger ships with a full medical staff are now able to provide necessary care on board for members with sleep apnea (CPAP etc.) ............... Sleep apnea is still considered a disability by the VA but the Navy does not discharge people simply because they have sleep apnea."
People with controlled sleep apnea are starting to live again. Their health is improving and they are regaining their former life style. Many are rejoining the work force and again earning a decent living. Because of a reversal of sexual dysfunction, they are also able to enjoy intimate relationships.
Get your apnea under control any way you can. Have a sleep study. Follow your doctor's instructions. Lose weight if you're overweight. Stop smoking. Avoid alcohol. And, if it's recommended for you, use your CPAP equipment.
Remember: Sleep apnea sucks!
Published On: December 12, 2008