The Greek word apnea, means literally “without breath.”
Too much of that can cause “without life.”
That is never good.
I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. I have been chronically exhausted for about a year. I have been depressed.
Not blue. Not suicidal. Not sad. More...flat. Nothing has much appeal. Spring came and went last year and I never noticed. Summer went by. I didn’t notice. Winter. And here we are again. Spring.
I dread it, mostly. Its damn insistence on re-birth and joy. Its moments of sun that send those around me into paroxysms of glee, hope, mirth. I just don’t care. It feels like an imposition. Buzz off. Don’t tell me I have to go out and play. I have no idea anymore why people do that. Play, I mean. I just don’t really care.
See? Depressed. Flat. I can see it. But I can’t will it away.
My friend SN, concerned about the change in me and my unrelenting lack of interest in anything, told me about her mother. She was “depressed.” Eventually doctors decided to do a sleep study and determined she had sleep apnea. She was treated for it and feels better. No more needing to pull off to the side of the road on the way home from work just to sleep.
People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times a night, often for minutes at a time. Again, I’m tellin’ ya, that is never good.
The brain, good ol’ brain, arouses one from sleep in order for them to breathe. Sleep is therefore fragmented and of poor quality. People rarely get to REM levels of restorative sleep or only get there for short periods of time.
No restorative sleep. Bad.
The neurologist who interpreted the data from my sleep study determined that I slept about 6 hours out of 8. Not because I was reading, or star-gazing, mind you, because my brain had to keep arousing me from sleep so I would breathe.
I was waked from sleep by said brain 178 times. Normal sleepers wake 5-7 times, although it’s not the sort of wakefulness that we remember.
I spent less than an hour in REM the entire night. Normal, restorative REM is 90-120 minutes per 8-ish hours of sleep a night.
I get to wear one of these:
What has happened to me?
I'm listening to the tune "Perforated Sleep" by Leo Kottke from the album: Guitar Music