The Importance of Sleep, Part 1

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Ever since becoming a mom, my constant mood is some form of tired. Drained, spent, exhausted; these are just some of the words I use when asked, “How are you?” Then when we decided to homeschool five years ago, my energy levels seemed to plummet even further. I simply assumed it was a product of getting older, having too much on my plate, or a combination of both. After a while I didn’t even think anything of it—that is until I started sleepwalking last summer. Yes, a 40-something-year-old was sleepwalking around her bedroom, getting bruised and disoriented all night long. Sleepwalking was a completely new activity to me, since I never did that as a child. When I approached my doctor, his first line of action was to get me on a Vitamin D supplement. My levels of Vitamin D were appallingly low, but even after a few months on the supplements, I was still sleepwalking and feeling exhausted every day. I also found myself falling asleep while reading to my girls and dosing while they worked on their school work.

The next step was to make an appointment with a pulmonary doctor for a referral to get a sleep study. It took months to get in with the doctor. His bedside manner was atrocious, but he was the key to unlocking my ability to have my insurance authorize a sleep study. I was extremely anxious to have the study. In many cases, the sleep study can be done at home. However, because I was sleepwalking, the doctor said I would have to have the sleep study done at a sleep center. My anxieties were a product of two things: I had not spent a night alone in over 15 years, and I would be at a strange place alone. I didn’t think I would be able to fall asleep, but apparently I was able to sleep enough for the tests to show that I have 119 apnea incidences in an hour. An incidence is when the patient snores or stops breathing. More than 5 incidences an hour is considered abnormal, and anything over 30 incidences is considered severe sleep apnea. Therefore, my apnea was off the charts. In my case, when I slept, I was not breathing more than I was breathing. As a result of not breathing, my oxygen went down to 70 from 100. This is a scary level. I wasn’t just tired from being a homeschooling mom, I was suffering from a much more serious problem: severe sleep apnea.

I went to the follow-up appointment at the sleep clinic and spent time trying out different sleep masks for a CPap machine (Cpap stands for continuous positive airway pressure). I knew others that used the machine, but I never really understood what it was and how it helped them sleep. At this visit I learned that sleep apnea is a progressive condition and can worsen over time. This is why I went from feeling tired as a new mom to completely drained 13 years later. Thankfully, I was blessed with a wonderful technician that was gentle and kind and spent time explaining how the CPap machine worked and how it is up to me to have a positive attitude regarding the usage of the machine. She believes that the machine is 100% effective, but that the patient has to keep an open mind and actually use the machine nightly for it to work. Technology has created the option for patients to use a variety of face masks, so that the CPap machine is no longer as cumbersome as it once was.

Some interesting sleep apnea facts I learned from the clinic:

Sleep apnea is not age specific; it can affect someone at any age.

 Sleep apnea is not weight specific; although being overweight can make it worse.

 Both men and women are affected; it is more common in men.

Sleep apnea is still greatly misunderstood by the medical community.

One in 15 Americans suffers from sleep apnea.

Now it is the waiting game for me, as I wait to have my CPap machine delivered. I will write a part 2 to this article when I have had time to adjust to the machine itself. Wish me luck!


Michelle Martin was born into a musical family and has been teaching music for over 20 years. Besides teaching piano and voice, Michelle is a performer, a choir director, a writer, a composer, and a homeschool mom. Most recently she has published three music curricula through Schoolhouse Teachers. Music has always been a passion for Michelle, and she believes exposing a child to music is just as important as learning math or science. Michelle lives with her husband, Jim, two daughters, Zoe and Eva, and a myriad of furry and aquatic friends.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).