I got a rare glimpse yesterday of the reality of what it is like when I forget to put my mask on and use my CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to treat me sleep apnea.
For those who are not in the know or have not seen the blog posts from late 2019, I found out that I have severe sleep apnea. How bad was it during my first sleep study? My doctor told me I stopped breathing no less than 700 times in a seven-hour period, and I got zero REM sleep, which they say is suitable for brain function. Averaging somewhere around 80-100 times of total stoppage of breathing an hour is terrible, and also very scary. My diagnosis became severe sleep apnea. One of the worst cases my doctor has seen.
One of the worst times I stopped breathing was for 57 seconds. Almost a minute of not breathing.
What feels like since birth, I have struggled with sleep. In 2016, I tried to get on a CPAP regiment, but issues with the dehumidifier and masks made my insurance take my machine away. I decided this time would be different. The CPAP devices now are amazing. One thing I love is that though my pressure level is high at a 15, the machine starts me off at a four, and gradually as I sleep increases to my comfortable air pressure. The dehumidifier is so much more advanced. In my second sleep study, I went down to stop breathing 30 times an hour, a vast improvement.
I was excited when the first time in two years my events per hour went down, and it only got better when I got my CPAP machine.
The results were instantaneous. Within the first week of constant use, I saw a significant drop in my events per hour to less than one. Before three hours was all I really got, but for the first time, I was sleeping six hours, then seven, and some night I even hit that high number of eight hours of sleep. The upside was I was waking less, and now I sleep through the night. My focus has improved drastically since starting my sleep CPAP regiment. My life has gotten so much better!
So far, I religiously make sure my mask is on before I sleep, but last night I was feeling down about missing my mom. I did not feel like I would sleep, but then I fell asleep without the mask on. I could tell the difference the moment I woke. I doubt my sleep was sound, and remember waking up so many times. One would say, “why not put the mask on when you woke?” The issue is with my Seroquel. It keeps me in a fog, and though I woke up, I was not conscious enough to realize my mask was not on my head.
While I was productive, mostly die to coffee, I felt so lagging in everything. I could feel how bad it was before my CPAP machine. How I functioned without it, I have no idea. My anxiety was a bit over the top but I managed to get it under control. At the same time, it was a great learning experience that sticking to my regiment is for the best. Sleep is so essential to mental health, if you feel like sleep is a significant issue, a sleep study could be a lifesaver. One of the major things about stopping and starting breathing is it can affect your brain, and that is such a vital organ!
One of the best things to come out of 2019 for me was improved sleep. You deserve it was much as I do because mental health is the most important thing you can work on in this life. This is just one side, there are so many parts to better mental health. Stay strong.
Always Keep Fighting!
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