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You're Reading The Bedroom Device That Can Change Your Life (Hint: It’s Not a Vibrator)

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Health

The Bedroom Device That Can Change Your Life (Hint: It’s Not a Vibrator)

Surprised sisters discover they have more energy, better moods, easier weight loss, less pain, better sex and happier relationships.

Do you ever hear unusual sounds at night and wonder if it’s your own snoring? After a year of being startled awake by her own choking, coughing and gasping for breath, Lorena Kennedy realized something was wrong. Her physician confirmed her hunch.

“I think you’ve got sleep apnea,” he told her, noting how her throat had gotten too narrow for oxygen to properly circulate through her body.

Taking his advice, Kennedy spent a night attached to electrodes wired to a special monitor in a hospital unit reserved for those whose irregular breathing keeps them from getting good, sound sleep and carries potentially serious health risks. (This was 15 years ago. Nowadays, patients can do this monitoring right at home.)

During the first two months of being on that therapy, she lost 25 pounds. Almost immediately, she started waking up feeling refreshed and more energetic.

“They clocked me. During four and half hours, I literally got 15 seconds of REM sleep,” said Kennedy, 46, executive assistant to a global financial firm’s chief tech officer. (REM, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep, is the deep, dreamy sleep that your body needs to restore and replenish itself. Babies spend longer periods in REM, which is why “sleep like a baby” describes absolute bliss beneath the blankets.)

Since then, New Yorker Kennedy has used a continuous positive airway pressure machine, better known as CPAP.  During the first two months of being on that therapy, she lost 25 pounds. Almost immediately, she started waking up feeling refreshed and more energetic.

She is among CPAP users who became die-hard devotees of that machine — a fairly small, quiet, and portable gizmo whose air-delivering hose attaches to a mask covering the nose and/or mouth — after experiencing how much it improved the quality of their everyday lives.

“Using a CPAP device has been shown to increase wakefulness and concentration, while decreasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary hypertension,” said Dr. Nathan Lott, a Waco, Texas pulmonologist who treats sleep disorders. “Some patients experience an increase in libido.” What’s more, eliminating the loud snoring means the CPAP user’s bedmate gets to sleep more peacefully, easing a major cause of frustration in many relationships. Both benefits can  make for happier couples.

Sluggishness, brain fog, bodily aches, depression, anxiety and heightened stress are among other ill effects of not getting enough REM sleep.

Using a CPAP Can Aid Weight Loss —And Losing the Weight Nixes Sleep Apnea For Many

Obesity is a leading cause of sleep apnea, which researchers say is under-diagnosed.  In fact, an estimated 1 in four African Americans suffer from moderate to severe cases, and the vast majority of them haven’t been screened or treated for it . Conversely, gaining weight has been linked to not getting enough sleep. A fraction of persons with sleep apnea aren’t obese.

In obese people, an overabundance of fatty issues narrows airways that are supposed to easily transport oxygen. That sometimes disrupts a person’s breathing, putting it on pause for abnormally extended periods of time. In non-obese people,  weak airway muscles are the culprit, pulmonologist Lott said.

In the deepest level of sleep, the airways lapse into a kind of self-paralysis, he said, breaking down the science. “That’s to keep you from acting out the subconscious things happening in your brain,” he said. “In some people, the muscles … are so weak that when they go into that paralysis, they have a hard time of coming out of it on their own.”

There’s no way to build up that muscle, and any weakness may be hereditary, he added.

In addition to suddenly waking up gasping, coughing or choking, signs of sleep apnea can include:

  • Waking up with a headache, dry mouth or sore throat.
  • Extreme sleepiness during the hours your scheduled to be awake.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Night sweats.
  • Lost sex drive.
  • Extra-loud snoring.

If You’re Single, You Need to Read This

Three years ago, a friend alerted Elise Durham, 52, to her thunderous snoring. “That was the running joke, if I was out of town and staying with somebody or in a relationship,” said Durham, communications director for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “A very dear friend who I was dating off and on is the one who said, ‘Elise, you need to get that checked out. I’m single. I live alone. I didn’t hear myself.”

The results of her sleep test, done in the privacy of Durham’s home, with her attached to a monitor and tracked via mobile app “blew me away,” she said.

“They said I’d had 100 incidents per hour,” said Durham, who has been using a CPAP machine since hearing those results. “They said I stopped breathing that many times. That really scared me. ‘Lord, is my heart jilting every time I stop sleeping? Was that going to cause cardiovascular problems?’ ”

Continued Durham, who sought a sleep test, to be safe, ahead of a starting a weight-loss program back then: “I have hypertension, I’m fluffy. I get that all of those things go into it. Could I have a heart attack or stop breathing so long that I have a stroke?”

Durham’s friend, Carol King, 54, was sleep-tested in March 2020, after her husband and daughter remarked repeatedly about her snoring. Her sleep apnea isn’t severe, said King, who’s among that fraction of leaner people with sleep apnea.

“When I first started, [the CPAP] was clunky and uncomfortable,” King, chief business officer for Emory University’s College of Arts and Sciences, said. “But I’m up to using if five nights a week. Now, I can definitely tell the difference.” “

She rarely wakes up at all during the middle of night anymore. And if she does, it’s happens just once and generally is prompted by the need for a bathroom break.

“I do feel rested,” King added. “I can breathe deeper. I don’t feel like I had to fight through sleep.”

 

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