Sleep apnea is defined as the absence of airflow at the nose and mouth for longer than 10 seconds during sleep. Sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) is described as the occurrence of more than 30 apnea episodes over a seven-hour period of nocturnal sleep.
My doctor says I had 150 – 160 episodes during my study where I either stopped breathing or had severe shallow breathing, causing me to awaken. I also had a slight drop in oxygen levels. So my sleep apnea is classified as severe. This is causing a severe disruption in my sleep, which helps explain why I’m tired all the time, in addition to my tiredness from the heart valve problem.
Sleep Apnea Information and Resources
The solution is that I have to have a C-PAP breathing machine and mask to use at night, which I go to get set up tomorrow. I also have to lose weight, which might be the cause of the problem, or which might help contribute to other factors that are the actual cause. I’ve always have trouble with snoring and waking up, though, even back when I was thin. My roommates in college used to complain about it. So I suspect that my weight isn’t the only cause.
Interestingly, weight gain is also listed as one of the symptoms sleep apnea — meaning having apnea contributes to weight gain.
Sleep Apnea as a Cause of Obesity
Obesity and sleep apnea are a chicken and egg problem. It is not always clear which condition is responsible for the other. For example, obesity is often a risk factor and possibly a cause of sleep apnea, but it is also likely that sleep apnea increases the risk for weight gain:
Some studies indicate that sleep apnea disrupts rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which, in turn, increases the risk for obesity.
Research indicates that animals deprived of REM sleep tend to eat more.
People with apnea may also become too tired to exercise and so put on weight.
He also said that I have to let the anesthesiologist know about this before surgery, so they don’t take my breathing tube out too early after surgery while I’m still under sedation, because I could get oxygen deprivation and brain damage. Which makes me remember when I was coming out of sedation after my appendectomy, and how I couldn’t breathe and the nurses kept coming over and shaking me and telling me to breathe. No wonder I’m stupid.