I have always been a heavy sleeper. Deep, restful sleep with vivid dreams and slobber on my pillow heavy. I loved sleeping. I loved my bed as a kid and was convinced that my Dallas Cowboy sheets and my Star Wars blanket helped me sleep better. But I always had a hard time waking up. I can still remember my Mother putting my school clothes on my 6 year old body because I wouldn’t get out of bed… she is a saint!
But looking back on my sleep history, I realize now that my body was trying to tell me something, even back then. I was always a “night owl” who stayed up late and struggled to wake up early. As I got older, that pattern only got worse. As my body grew, I began to snore… loudly.
My poor sleep habits didn’t change, in fact, they got worse. As a college student and young adult, alcohol and stress only made my sleep worse. But the body has a way of overcompensating for poor decisions; or at least it fools us into thinking things aren’t so bad. I thought I was fine… I could sleep for hours, as long as that pesky alarm didn’t go off for the fifth time in a row!
Stubbornness and pride also played a big role in my denial. I had convinced myself that sleeping through my alarm was charming; afternoon naps were normal; daytime grogginess was easily fixed with another cup of coffee and that snoring like a freight train was a burden only to my idiot roommates. I had no idea the damage I was doing to my body, brains and vital organs!
Fast forward to my first year of marriage. My newly beloved had already devised her own plan of escape… ear plugs, white noise machines and sleeping in a different room were her tools of avoidance. Not a great plan for a fledgling romance working on building a family.
As if that wasn’t enough… I was falling asleep during conversations, nodding off at red lights, and I couldn’t make it through the previews of a movie! I was also getting up to pee multiple times each night, and I wasn’t dreaming anymore.. I had begun to sleepwalk. One night, she awoke to me standing on a rolling office chair, trying to remove the ceiling fan without a stitch of clothing.
Ok… can you say “Wake up Call?” Sorry for the pun…
It was then that she put her foot down and insisted that I get help. And thank God I listened. I took the sleep test and it revealed, not surprisingly, that I had SEVERE sleep apnea. I was on CPAP therapy the next day. And I have worn it, every night, for the past 13 years; well almost.. the 3 nights I haven’t were horrific. My wife, along with CPAP Therapy, literally saved my life. I was so hesitant for so many reasons… I said to her, “but wearing this thing at night is not sexy at all,” to which she replied, “neither is a stroke.”
She is so much smarter than me.
I am living proof that CPAP therapy works. I can’t sleep without it. I feel better everyday and I get perfect sleep. I believe in it so much, I started Heartstrong so that we could help others who struggle with sleep… And 8 years later, we’ve helped over 10,000 people get better sleep!
Amen to that!