Shouldn't Have Put This Off
So, a few months ago now, my doctor had me wear an ambulatory blood pressure cuff for a day. While my blood pressure was normal, the test showed a small increase in pressure at night.
I was referred to an at-home sleep study at the local DME. They were very quick to process the results, resulting in my physician writing a script for an auto-pap without even having the chance to discuss the results.
Picking up the machine, the Sleep Tech quickly walked me through the study. There were no apneas, but for the duration of the study, I had 18 hypopneas. I'm unsure if this is per hour or throughout session, but the pulse ox doesn't lie: with hyponpeas lasting a maximum of 48 seconds, it read as low as 83%.
Perhaps this explains why I am so tired during the day and inclined to sleep upwards of 12 hours, yet feel very little relief. My sleeping schedule also rolls forward a few hours each day, give or take. For many years, I just assumed this was the result of a diagnosis of ADD (without the hyperactive component) and medicated it with a small dose of Adderall, not to mention caffeine and calories. It's been a good 12 years of that.
The Sleep Tech gave me a machine calibrated to 4-16 with a FLEX setting of 2. It was very difficult to get to sleep due to the sensation of suffocation, but somehow I managed. My AHI was only 1.52, all hyponpeas.
After another night of hyperventilating myself to sleep, I changed the pressure to 5, then to 6. Finally, I could get to sleep comfortably. After finding a helpful post here about placing your tongue lightly against the roof of one's mouth at night, I was able to eliminate any leaks related to mouth breathing.
My sleep remained fragmented, however. I'd constantly wake up every 1-3 hours. Most of the time I could get back to sleep, averaging 6 hours a night.
Sure, I'd feel more rested, but no longer being able to get a "solid" feeling sleep continues to take its toll on me.
My AHI averages about 2, so at least there's that.
There've been periods through this where I've been convinced I don't need this therapy and I'm just a cog in the DME's racket to sell me a machine with a 100% markup. But, after recording my sleep for a night, I'm forced to conclude that there's something going on: my breathing becomes shallow and sounds almost like it stops for a while, then it continues again.
Touche, DME. Maybe I do have a problem.
Figuring Out What's Normal
Now, something else has shown up: periodic breathing. For the last two days, the machine's flagged it. It's short, making up less than 1% of my sleep, but going back through the flow rate graphs, I notice similar patterns. Perhaps they're just not of long enough duration for the DreamStation to detect them? I have long periods of stable breathing, then it seems to undulate.
Likewise, I see gaps in my breathing. They're similar to hyponpeas, but are unflagged by the machine.
Then there's flow limitations. One every hour or so, of 6 seconds duration, yet most the time it looks like I'm breathing in Sleepyhead.
Then, the last two nights, I've noticed that when I wake up, am trying to drag myself back to sleep, and am laying on my back (normally I sleep in a positional hybrid of stomach and side), it seems like my breath just stops for a second. I have to consciously will myself to take a breath. Just a weird sensation.
Does this sound normal? Anyway, I'll talk with my doctor tomorrow, hopefully, then the Sleep Tech on the weekend. If more info is needed, just ask. Bit spaced out at the moment.