Wake America – On Sleep Centers, CPAP Devices: Beneficial or New Medical Scams?
If you don’t sleep well or find yourself a bit tired during the day your doctor may tell you to go to one of the new burgeoning sleep centers. But, before you do, take this advice…
I went to a sleep center Sunday Night, Memorial Day eve, with some trepidation. Though I don’t have the usual symptoms of sleep apnea such as falling asleep during the day or taking naps, I decided to go for a sleep study because I feel like my REM sleep could be better; I don’t wake up feeling refreshed. My doctor agreed I should go.
SLEEP APNEA – Latest Life Saver or Pharmaceutical Fad?
From the Sleep Center brochure they don’t really tell you much to improve your sleep other than to get more sleep and not to drink alcohol before you go to bed. But there is that sleep apnea, of which companies seem to be making a lot of money by selling CPAP machines. My doctor said that they’ve improved several of his patients lives and that it might be worth it to have the sleep study, which is required to get a CPAP machine. Even if I don’t have sleep apnea, he felt the CPAP machines are helpful to make it easier for someone like me to breathe, by forcing humidified air in one’s nostrils.
After calling several sleep centers I made an appointment with the larger one, which also takes insurance. After making an appointment, I never got the email which explained the process. I called again to reschedule and, again, didn’t receive the instructions until I finally found them buried in a spaml email. I would quickly learn more about the sleep center procedure and fill out the questionnaire only hours before my Sunday night 10:15 eight hour appointment.
Armed with my survey and appointment info along with my various accoutrements I need to fall asleep (nasal spray, ‘breathe rite’ strips, etc.) I said goodbye to my cat and made my way over to the Contra Costa Sleep Center Sunday Night May 30, arriving at the 10:15 pm appointment time. I was ushered into a bedroom –one of eight in the center – where I awaited the technician who would hook my body up to be monitored for my sleep habits. This would, ostensibly, determine whether or not I have ‘sleep apnea’ that would require me to sleep with a ‘CPAP’ devise (you’ve probably heard a lot about of late – like Gluten, is it a new fad or really necessary for many? As my doctor,
noted, it might be a good thing for me to use this devise even if I don’t have sleep apnea; he said it has had a profound positive effect on many of his patient’s lives. One aspect of the CPAP is to open up one’s nasal passages while forcing more air into one’s system (I have some trouble breathing through my nose and this could be a help).
The technician, a pleasant middle age woman of foreign extraction, came into the room about 10:30 pm. After explaining a little more about the overnight procedure she began hooking by head, chest and legs to a myriad of wires. There were so many wires I wouldn’t easily be able to turn from side to side in bed.
‘But that’s ok’, said the tech, ‘The doctors would prefer you sleep on your back.’
I’d never slept on my back. I COULDN’T sleep on my back. This through me into a minor panic and the technician left the room.
There I was in a strange room hardly able to move , with all these wires coming out of my body along with a big machine sitting next to my head.
Having gone to bed late the night before –or, rather, this morning – I was already tired and figured I wouldn’t have any problem falling asleep, as is the usual case.
Well, 11 pm came around and I was still awake, trying to turn at least 45 degrees. Believe me, the idea of pulling the wires out DID cross my mind. But, I tried to look at this as an experience and not to fight it. But, by midnight I still had yet to fall asleep and I thought I better let ‘M’ the technician, know – not that she didn’t , having me right in her radar a room away.
‘I know,’ she said , when I told her I haven’t fallen asleep. She allowed me to listen to my phone radio, which might help. The plan was for me to sleep a couple hours and then she would come in around 1 pm and put the CPAP machine on me for the rest of the night so I could try it out. But , it was almost that time now and I hadn’t even slept for them to be able to monitor me.
The radio hadn’t helped me sleep so I just continue to lie in bed as the minutes and hours ticked by. Lots of sheep to count this night. I did notice that while I hadn’t been able to breathe well earlier I was beginning to be able to breathe through my nose and even ‘sleep’ on my back, which I’d never done before! The aiar in the room was no doubt cleaner than my own room but I think theres’s just something that allows me to breathe better in the morning hours; how else have I been able to sleep all these years after having to start out the night with everything from eye drops to bottled water, to aspirin to vick’s vasaline to nasal spray, Breathe Rite strips – and radio!
WHAT KIND OF SLEEP CENTER WHERE YOU CAN’T FALL ASLEEP?
Anyway, I don’t remember ever falling asleep at all but I must have somewhere somewhere around 3 am, accordinig to the technician, who would ccome in to ‘wake me’ at 5:30 am. Because it took me so long to get enough quantity of sleep to monitor they had to dispense with the CPAP trial, thought I did see what it looked like earlier. M said I could schedule another ‘sleepover’ after the results of my sleep test came back in three weeks.
But, why would I come back if the results say that I don’t need the CPAP? I’m beginning to think that you don’t get out of here without a CPAP recommendation. Maybe the sleep center and the CPAP manufacturers are in cahoots . Because I hardly slept I’m pretty sure they’ll tell me I need a CPAP. But, really, how many people can really sleep when hooked up to all those wires so you can barely turn in bed? The tech did admit to me that I was far from the only one unable to sleep, even thoughnever having a problem at home.
So, at 5:30 am when she came into wake me up I told her it wouldn’t be necessary. I was ALREADY awake just awaiting her return to release me from all the wires.. She explained then that there would be no CPAP trial since they needed the extra time to monitor my sleep. Too bad as I was beginning to look forward to the CPAP experience. She told me I’d just had enough sleep for them to monitor and, again, would have to come another time to try the CPAP.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel very tired, and took my belongings to another room WHILE I filled out a post –sleep survey. – another questionnaire which seemed to have a lot of contradictions such as asking if you’re TOO TIRED to drive home,. yet are told to leave the survey on the desk which would be reviewed after you leave and get into a possible car accident! (I added the last part) .You would think they would at least review that one page before you leave or ASK if you feel awake enough to drive! (See INITIAL ‘UNSCIENTIFIC’ SURVEY ATTACHED).
After earlier being told I would get the results in a few days I was now told lit would be about THREE WEEKS(!) before I would know if I had sleep apnea
Fortunately, I made the short 15 minute drive home without problem, but wondered about others with longer drives who might fall asleep behind the wheel on the way home . I must have slept because I felt pretty good the next day and didn’t even need any extra sleep!
HOME SURPRISE – GUM IN MY HAIR
I’ve mentioned a few ‘rough’ patches with this whole program, such as the lack of ‘science,’ communication and instructions – other than the email , which I only found at the last minute. But the WORST thing was when I got home and went to wash up. I would discover three gum-like balls in my hair on top and either side of my head. These were used to stick the wires to my head but I had no idea they even existed or would take a half hour to wash out of my hair! On top of that there were a couple stick-em rounds still connected to my chest which I had to rip off along with some chest hair in the process.
At least if the technician would have alerted me to expect these when I got home. It was a total surprise and even shock to find the very gum-like stuff in my hair which I wasn’t even sure would come out , at first. Ever tried getting gum out of your hair?
BOTTOM LINE – Marketing Hype or Valuable Test?
I didn’t understand when a friend warned me about these sleep centers and the ‘rough edges’ and ‘lack of science’ involved. While I think I’m glad I went – pre-re-port – I can see where people are left ‘up in the air’ as to their REAL sleep situations. To have to wait three weeks for your doctor to get the report and then another amount of time to make an appointment to see him is a bit much. And, after months my friend still doesn’t know if he has sleep apnea or what to do next. Hopefully , in three weeks, I WILL know something more – or have some idea of my sleeping state and how to proceed, but when one who normally sleeps CAN’T SLEEP during the study, one has to wonder as to the efficacy of the testing
Perhaps it might be easier –and better- for someone who thinks he or she might have sleep apnea to just go out and rent or buy a CPAP device to try out.
Better yet, before you go and spend money, try these common sense things (I mostly learned from the brochure):
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- Go to bed about the same time each night, preferably earlier than later
- Don’t drink alcohol or smoke before going to bed
- If overweight,. try losing some lbs.
- Eat a good diet, don’t skip breakfast and try to exercise some each day
There , you feel better already and are sleeping better after following this common sense advice. But, if not, go ahead and try a sleep study – usually insurance will pay for it . Be prepared for some confusion. At the very worst you’ve wasted some time and at the very best you might even be able to sleep better. (I later learned you just can’t go buy a CPAP but need to be tested forst and then prescribed by your doctor.