My Sleep Apnea

I have Sleep Apnea. For those without exposure to it, it’s the closing of the airways when the body is in a relaxation state (i.e., asleep). The symptoms include loud snoring and frequent (noisy) awakenings, called arousals. In the past, I would snore like a buzz saw; regardless of sleep position.

The closing airways cause me to fight my way back to a semi-awake state. This fight injects the heart with an unhealthy shot of adrenaline, shocking it to an elevated heart rate. These shocks are not a good thing if they happen too often. After a sleep study, the doctor advised me I was having arousals an average of 90 times per hour! More than once a minute, I was fighting for breath and stressing my heart. The study showed I was never getting into REM sleep (where the body recovers from fatigue and clears the mind of pent-up garbage) and never dreamed.

My father also snored like this. To this day, I attribute his early passing (of a heart attack under 60) to untreated sleep apnea that stressed his heart over the years.

When diagnosed (in 2002), my weight was an unhealthy 230 pounds. With this weight, my airways closed frequently, preventing me from getting any rest. After the diagnosis, I gained another 14 pounds in the year following, which would have made matters far worse, had I not been receiving treatment.

The most effective treatment for sleep apnea is the Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine with a mask that covers my nose. The machine applies a gentle positive air pressure into my nose, keeping the airways open. The headgear is a little wild to see, but easy to use: I forget I have it on. Once I started getting better sleep, I was able to awaken in the early morning to go to the gym on a regular basis. I didn’t feel like dozing off in the afternoons and was generally less crabby.

Losing weight also helps your airways from closing as well. I’ve dropped 44 pounds in the past three years, at a healthy rate through diet and exercise. I find that if I don’t use my CPAP I sleep and dream (evidence of REM sleep, which is good). However, I still use it nightly. At one point, my body weight will drop below my IQ (see my post on “IQ and Cholesterol Level”). At that time I might consider dropping it entirely, but it’s too soon to tell.

Mine is a happy story. If you snore or cannot sleep, talk to your health care provider and get a sleep study. Find out now.

About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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