Living With and Managing Sleep Apnea
JIM: I had this problem throughout my life. Driving was always a problem, and I tried to make sure that no place I ever had to go was very far away because I knew I'd fall asleep. Carol Lynn was complaining about snoring and, more specifically, snoring and then long periods of nothing,
and then a gasp when I would, you know, start breathing again. Obviously, I wanted to enjoy my life with my children more than I felt that I was enjoying it. It's Saturday morning, and the kids are at your bed ready to do something, and I'm just like, quot;I gotta sleep, guys. I'm sorry. I can't play with you. I can't do this.quot; And I look back and I'm like, quot;This just can't be right.quot;
I had been talking to my about possibly having depression symptoms. I remember the other thing that I said to the when I went was that I no longer had any dreams. If you're not getting into REM sleep, you have no dreams. And so she's the one who then said, quot;Okay, we're gonna send you for a sleep study.quot; I spent the night there.
The amount of times that I was technically waking, and as low as my blood oxygen levels were, it was extreme. I was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea. Surgery, as it turned out, really wasn't a good option for me. The next step was that my did prescribe a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure.
The idea is they have to get the air pressure to your nose or your mouth or both in order to keep your airway open while you sleep. Because it wasn't comfortable for me to use, I was not using it as well as I should have been, in some cases not at all for weeks at a time. And things got worse, other symptoms appeared. I felt confused and out of it and just not right.
And I realized that I really needed to figure out a way to learn to live with this contraption. Now I'm at the point where I am consistently using it and have been for a long period of time. I definitely feel better. I'm looking forward to feeling better yet. Certainly, I have more energy to do activities with the children than I did before, and we do more.
Can You Fake Sleep
Imagine you wake up thinking I had a wonderfulnight's sleep, I feel fantastic and I'm going to get up immediately. If you're anythinglike me, that never happens. No matter how much sleep you get, there'salways that niggling voice inside your head just a little bit more, the snooze button,more alarms, and you thinking about how tired you are. But simply thinking you got a good night'ssleep can improve your brain function. In a recent study researchers told participants that those who spend more than 25% of their time asleep in REM sleep have better cognitive functioning.
Last week I mentioned when we sleep, we cyclethrough stages of light and deep sleep. The first and second stages are light sleep andwe can be woken up easily. When you reach the third stage you enter deep sleep. Andfollowing that is rapideyemovement, REM sleep, where your eyes actually move backand forth and you're most likely to dream. But the study was all a set up. The participantsslept in a lab and the researchers told some that they had 16% of REM sleep and othersthey had 29% of REM sleep the night before. When they were tested for their attentionspans and processing speeds, those told that they had aboveaverage REM sleep performedbetter and those told they had belowaverage
performed worse. The researchers called the effect Placebosleep because it's kind of like the placebo effect, where in medical treatments a faketreatment like a sugar pill is given to a patient and it actually improves their conditionbecause they believe it will help. In this case, simply believing that you hada good night's sleep, even if you didn't, improves performance. But can you really fakesleepé Not in the Homer Simpson way but in the way where you actually believe you hadmore or better quality sleep the night before. It's totally unrealistic that you wouldbe in a lab setting every night or you would
have an expert with you every morning to sayyou slept well. That would be weird. But you could stop thinking and talking abouthow tired you are, and plan a nap. Researchers say an afternoon nap is the ideal remedy forfatigue from sleep loss. Again, that's kind of unrealistic for those of us with jobs whoaren't as brazen as George Costanza. One solution is active rest or progressivemuscle relaxation. You focus on one muscle group in your body, like your hands, makethem really tense for about 15 seconds then release and you do that up and down your body.You should feel recharged. Like napping, active rest improves our mood and is good for feelingsof fatigue and your stress levels.
While it's really hard to tell what thequality of our sleep was actually like, if you're feeling fatigued you should snoozeless and nap more. Or active rest. It's almost napping. So it seems that the key to faking sleep isactually. Faking sleep. In the Homer Simpson way. Chances are you've woken up feeling reallydrowsy and confused. Check out my tutorial last week, which is an explainer on severe sleepinertia or sleep drunkenness. And if you've tried active rest instead of napping, letme know what that's like in the comments or
if you haven't, try it at work and let meknow how it goes. if you can get away with it. And if you haven't already, subscribeto BrainCraft! I have a new brainy tutorial every Thursday.