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Do You Suffer From a Sleep Disorder?

According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute (NHLBI), approximately one in six, or 40 million Americans, suffer from a sleep disorder. 

Symptoms of certain sleep disorders can include:  

·      Persistent loud snoring

·      Trouble falling asleep

·      Daytime sleepiness

·      Hypertension

·      Restless sleep 

·      Gasping for breath during sleep

Mary Willson, patient access representative for Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI) Sleep Care, didn’t have a sleep test done for herself until her endocrinologist encouraged her to pursue testing due to her high blood sugar levels in the morning.

“My doctor thought my high blood sugars could be caused by sleep apnea so she sent me to have a sleep study done,” shares Mary. “This was about a year after I started working at OHI’s midtown sleep lab in October 2015.” 

Mary had to have two sleep studies done before she was diagnosed with sleep apnea. “My apnea only showed up in the later part of the night in my REM cycle of sleep which happens from periodically; although they tried to do the test all in one night  I had to come back for a second test which happens sometimes,” says Mary.

“When I came in for my test, they set me up, I went to sleep and when I woke up, it was morning and I realized I had slept through the night, which never happened. A lot of patients tell us they had the best night of sleep in a while when they come in to have their sleep test done.”

Once Mary started using her sleep apnea machine, she started to notice positive changes in her health. “I had trouble with my blood pressure for years and had tried several different medications but could never get it under control, but suddenly after nine months of using my sleep apnea machine, my blood pressure improved significantly. I couldn’t think of any other reason why that would be other than using my machine. I also suffered from severe fatigue and had a really hard time concentrating at work. After several months I noticed focusing became much easier; I think it was because my brain wasn’t getting the right kind of sleep. I sleep so much better at night and I don’t have that terrible fatigue anymore either.”

Mary also explains how patients who come to the clinic and are diagnosed with sleep apnea never fit into a specific demographic. “We see patients of all ages including small children up to patients in their 80s. We see men and women of all ages and sizes from healthy weights to those considered obese.”

When it comes to Mary’s friends and family, she encourages them to have a sleep test if they wake up several times at night or are tired throughout the day. “It is the easiest test you can have done for your health; you just have to sleep in a different bed for the night,” she says.

“I think people should view sleep tests just like mammograms or colonoscopies, as necessary for your health, though sleep tests are much simpler. I also tell people if they ever hear their partner stop breathing while they are sleeping, that this is a very serious sign and they should have a sleep test immediately. If you can get the help you need to have better sleep by having a little extra air pumped into your body, it’s worth it.” 

Questions concerning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea to ask yourself:

·       Do I snore?

·       Do I have high blood pressure?

·       Do I have Type 2 diabetes?

·       Has anyone ever said I stop breathing at night?

·       Am I tired every day?

For more information about Oklahoma Heart Institute Sleep Care, please visit Oklahomaheart.com today!