I have had “sleep issues” for years. I can’t remember the last time I got 8 hours. And maybe years ago when there was a time that I did, I would still wake up tired because I was depressed, and sometime in there was the three or four years I drank myself to sleep…what I called my “situational” alcoholism. And then three or four years ago, I became aware of the sleep apnea stuff. I snored like crazy and would trash about at night very restlessly.
The sleep apnea machine did help. I wasn’t sleeping very long it seemed, but the sleep I did get was more restful because I wasn’t waking myself up multiple times at night at an unconscious level because I was sufficating myself with my own uvula. But that’s what happens in sleep apnea. If you are a back sleeper and snorer, the uvula, and the fleshy tissues in its general area, will flap back and cover the air hole, the one that lets air get into your lungs. So you start suffocating and your body becomes aware of this and wakes you up.
Some people have 40 episodes of this in an hour of sleep. This can really screw up REM sleep which seems important to resting the brain, and the medical people have concluded this stuff, because it strains the heart, can shorten life. So I got the sleep apnea machine, as I said, and have suffered with it four two or three years now. I say suffered because the damn machine and the mask you have to wear to get air pressure is a real pain in the butt. The seal will break and all of a sudden it sounds like a helicopter is taking off in your ear. That tends to wake a person up and of course there’s the cord that feeds the air to the mask. I woke up once with the damn thing clear around my throat. I don’t know how the hell I did that.
So I have had plenty of ups and downs with the sleep apnea mask. Like it’s a paradox. It helps you to get better quality sleep but it can also make getting to sleep a real pain. And about a month ago something new started happening. I started swallowing air. That’s when the air that goes into the mask that is supposed to go into your lungs, decides to go down the stomach hole rather than the air hole. I started waking up in the morning with pains in my tummy and really powerful flatulence because of the air buildup in the stomach.
Then I started having trouble getting to sleep because I was taking in so much air that I would start to burp. So there I would be, falling off to sleep, and I would burp. Burp. Burp. Burp! Constant burping is not a good way to go to sleep. So I tried sleeping on this side or that side and elevating my head. But still burp, burp, burb, flatulate, flatulate, flatulate.
So Tuesday, I guess it was, I dug out one of the old masks I have and spent an hour or so adjusting it and lying on the bed in an awake state experimenting to see if I could find the right position and seal for the mask. And it did seem better. But that night, well, it was worse than ever.
I got maybe a total of 4.5 hours of sleep that night and that has cast a pall over the whole damn week.
Above an illustration of a cpap mask for sleep apnea and the horrible head gear you have to wear to keep the thing in place. Some people refuse to get treatment for sleep apnea becaue the idea of wearing such a contraption to sleep seems very undignified, not to mention, down right appauling.