I had a sleep study done this week and received the call that it was positive for sleep apnea. I wasn’t surprised, in fact, I feel somewhat relieved. I told my family doctor that I had not felt good for the past year. Grief from the loss of my father, gaining 30 pounds since his death, and adding menopause on top of that will wear you down. I lie in my bed eight hours a night, but I don’t sleep eight hours. I go to sleep fast, but I wake up several times during the night. I wake up sleepy every morning. I have a sense of feeling sleepy all of the time. I never feel rested. Even if I sleep late on Saturdays, I struggle to get out of bed. So I asked my doctor if she would schedule a sleep study.
I went to the Sleep Center at 8:00 pm with my overnight bag and rang the doorbell. We walked down a hallway that looked like a hotel and I was assigned to room #4. There were two women working there and it was very quiet. My room looked like a generic hotel room but with a really plush recliner inside. She told me to make myself at home, watch TV, put in a DVD, talk on my phone or read. They had wifi so it was like a hotel room. She said that she would return to my room in an hour to get me wired up for the study. The paperwork said that I need to bring pajamas, but I don’t own a pair, so I changed into a tee shirt and shorts. I climbed into the recliner and read until she knocked on the door and entered pulling her tray of equipment inside.
Monitors were taped to my legs, then more were put on my chest. Three electrodes were taped across my chin, one right below my eye, three taped to my forehead, one behind each ear, then several all over my scalp. These electrodes were to record my brain activity, chin muscle tone, measure my air flow, eye movements, leg movements, heart rates and oxygen saturation. There were 2 elastic bands that were belted around my chest to measure my chest wall movements, and a pulse ox was placed on my finger. She said they would be able to see when I was dreaming but NOT, what I was dreaming. That was good to know! I was told to read or watch TV until I was ready to go to sleep.
When I finished my reading about 10:00 pm, noticing a camera pointing towards my bed as I reached over and clicked off the lamp. I spotted a small red light on the ceiling and that was the only light in the dark room. I did turn on the fan in the room, just like at home. I heard the technician’s soft voice over the speaker saying that if I needed anything just to say it out loud and she would hear me, like if I needed to get up to go to the bathroom. She would have to come in and unhook me to get to the bathroom. I only drank one small cup of water at dinner for this very reason. She asked me to lie on my back and relax then open and close my eyes several times. I was asked to move my eyes from left to the right, then up and down, then to clear my throat three times then hold my breath for the count of ten. Next, I was asked to move my legs back and forth. There was a pause and she said Goodnight. I slowly turned over on my side, afraid of pulling out my wires, then went to sleep.
I woke up and didn’t know if I had been asleep for 30 minutes or 5 hours because it was dark and I could not see my watch. I said out loud that I needed to go to the bathroom and my bedroom door instantly opened. It was only 12:30. She unhooked me from the machine and I walked to the bathroom. When I came back, she asked if I would try to sleep on my back. I told her that it would be a struggle but I would try. I went back to sleep pretty quick, but lying on my back, I woke myself up with one of those ugly snores where you think you are not getting enough air. I did that three different times, then turned over on my side knowing that she saw how I could not sleep on my back.
I woke up a second time needing to go to the bathroom but did not open my eyes hoping I could wait. My door instantly opened again and the technician says, “I saw you wake up. Do you need to go to the bathroom again?” I smiled to myself and said yes, seeing that it was 4:30 am. When I came back, she said that she had a really good recording of my sleep and asked if I was ready to go home. I did have the option of going back to sleep but I was ready to leave. It took her a while to get me unhooked and I put my wrap around my shoulders and left the building to come home.
I asked the lady if she was a nurse and she said no that she went to school for sleep medicine. She said you could get a two or four-year degree. I thought for a minute and realized that you would always work the night shift. Always. I bet it is a job that is in demand because I assumed it was done by a nurse. She told me that it went against a person’s nature to stay up all night and there were several disadvantages but she enjoyed it. That might not be a bad job to only work with sleeping people!
I received a call today saying I needed to do part two of the study now since I have sleep apnea. I will have to go back and sleep there again, but this time using a CPAP machine to see how I sleep with one. I am not nervous about it, but I feel hopeful. I want to wake up and feel good again.