One of the most common health issues of being morbidly obese is sleep apnea. I experienced sleep apnea for almost two decades and didn’t know it! According to a Johns Hopkins University study in Baltimore, “Severe sleep apnea raises the risk of dying early by 46 percent.” Now THATS a percentage to take note of!
I learned all about sleep apnea upon returning home for a long West Indies sailing adventure. I shared a cabin with two other friends, who, upon the first night together, I’m amazed they didn’t throw me overboard! During breakfast the first morning out to sea, they both told be I snored loud enough to possibly break our cabin portal! They also mentioned they feared for my life! Why? I’d stop breathing for long periods of time, only to shatter the silence when my body convulsed enough to restart my breathing. I had NO clue about all this until that fateful morning. Of course, I felt terrible about all this. Looking back, I see now how my obesity took its toll on the health of two dear friends. (Your health does, indeed, factor into the health of everyone you hold near and dear.)
After the dust settled from that trip, I spoke with my Doctor about my sleeping habits. I received a referral to a sleep apnea clinic. WOW! What an experience. The technician was amazed that I didn’t exhibit the traditional signs of sleep apnea based on my sleep study results. Given my results (a 95 out of 100 score on their scales), I should have been one of those folks who falls asleep at the wheel when driving, falling asleep at my desk, etc. Based on their scales, newborns may score a 25 on their tests (meaning, just about everyone has some form of sleep apnea from time to time). A 95 was considered life threatening.
My Doctor wanted me to IMMEDIATELY start using a C-PAP machine to help me breath better while sleeping. GREAT! A face-mask strapped to my fat face forcing air into my nose and mouth all so I might experience a sound sleep. I understood the implications of turning down a C-PAP machine when I opted for the more dramatic option. Surgery. A risky procedure known as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (or UPPP) combined with a full tonsillectomy. Thankfully, all turned out well.
Moral of the story, obesity often results in sleep apnea. Sleep apnea robs our bodies of necessary deep sleep time. If you’re partnered with someone, you may be robbing them of their sleep time with all that snoring! As we all know, lack of deep sleep depletes our immune system as well as increases our chances of being less than kind to ourselves and others. Think about it! If you’re over weight and feel tired all the time, it’s time you realize you may have a severe case of sleep apnea. Get this checked out ASAP!