TRYING TO GET A RESTFUL NIGHT’S SLEEP
Brad Axelrod, PhD
Director, American Alliance for Healthy Sleep
I grew up with allergies and hay fever, leaving me congested and sniffling much of the time. So, when being congested turned into snoring, I was not so surprised. My wife would have to wake me from time to time, asking that I try to stop the snoring when sleeping. Lying face down on the bed, or even just rolling on my side worked for a while. And by “a while” I mean for a few years.
But, then the awakening became a bit more frequent. My wife’s morning reports became more insistent, and our mutual frustration increased a little. Sleeping face down was not diminishing my snoring anymore. So, then I tried decongestants and antihistamines before bed, and these over-the-counter aids were intermittently helpful but not in a consistent manner. In the end, I brought the issue to my family physician who recommended a trip to a sleep specialist to formally evaluate my snoring.
As far as sleep problems are concerned, I never thought that I had sleep apnea to the point that I was not obtaining sufficient sleep. I certainly didn’t ever recall having episodes of gasping myself awake because I couldn’t breathe while sleeping, and my wife also did not seem to think that I ever stopped breathing or was gasping for air. As for feeling sleepy during the day, there were times that I would take a 10 minute “power nap” at lunch or feel drowsy while driving home at the end of the day. But, I viewed those incidents as being consistent with a typical hard-working lifestyle, not something that needed medical treatment. Regardless, on the recommendation of my family physician, I went for an evaluation to find out if I did indeed have sleep apnea.