Sleepless in Indiana (and Everywhere Else)

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Sometimes, you just gotta laugh. I recently suffered through a sleep study. One of the instructions I was given when the place called the day before was to bring my evening medicines. In the spirit of full disclosure, I said, “that includes IV antibiotics, by the way.”

“We don’t have any nurses here,” was the response.

“That’s OK. I do it myself,” I said.

There was a pause from the other end of the phone line. Followed by a tentative, “Does your doctor know that?”

Anyway, I don’t know why they call it a “sleep” study. Normally, I can fall asleep any time in any place. That night? No way.

There probably were several reasons. For one, I had wires stuck onto my head, legs, chest, and chin, and above one eye and below the other. And I had two sets of prongs in my nose. Kind of like the oxygen things, but smaller. But there were two, remember? I think one was to see if you were breathing through your nose; the other to see if you were breathing through your mouth.

Lemme tell ya something: If you have two sets of prongs in your nose, you are going to be a mouth breather. Then your mouth gets dry and you’re sipping water all night, which causes you to have to go potty. A lot. And each time, you have to call somebody to unhook you from the motherboard. Then she has to come and hook you back up when you’re finished. By then, you’re good and awake.

On top of all that, I don’t generally sleep in a lot of clothing. OK, generally…none. That wouldn’t have been too kewl during a sleep study, when there’s a camera on you. So I had on a nightgown and my skivvies. Whenever I moved, my nightie went one way and my skivvies went the other way.

I think I got maybe two hours of sleep altogether.

In the course of things, however, I found out something new as my personal person, Suzanne, and I were chatting as she stuck wires to my head: “Did you know that people with diabetes are more likely to have sleep apnea?” she asked. (Or maybe it was vice-versa.)

No. No, I didn’t. I mean, I’d read articles and research about the association between lack of sleep and Type 2 diabetes, but hadn’t correlated that information with obstructive sleep apnea.

So I looked it up when I got home. And there it was, in report after report.

The most recent I found, from the March 1, 2010, issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, noted that obstructive sleep apnea “is a highly prevalent comorbidity of type 2 diabetes.” (In this case, “morbidity” is an illness or disease.) It’s also a predictor of glucose control, say the researchers from the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine.

According to their research, 77% of the subjects (who had Type 2 diabetes) had obstructive sleep apnea, and a measurement of their HbA1cs showed increases ranging from a mean of 1.49% to 3.69%, depending on the severity of the obstructive sleep apnea. (A mean is the average of all the numbers.)

In other words, you can lower your HbA1c just by getting enough sleep. Make that quality sleep. The authors say the results are about the same as those accomplished by taking widely used glucose-lowering medicines.

Earlier research had shown that polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) also is associated with obstructive sleep apnea. PCOS is associated with Type 2 diabetes, as well.

Lemme see…many of my relatives have (or had) Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is associated with sleep apnea, which I have. It’s also associated with PCOS, which I have.

Did you ever get the idea you didn’t have a chance?

The solution to sleep apnea involves wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or Variable/Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) apparatus while sleeping. In other words, you have all this stuff on you. I don’t like stuff on me. In fact, I tried CPAP about 10 years ago and got less sleep than when I didn’t have it on. So I stopped using it.

Now, however, I’m so tired and sleepy most of the time, I’m actually looking forward to getting back in gear (so to speak). Hopefully, I’ll be able to sleep long enough at the sleep clinic for them to adjust the oxygen pressure levels. I think that takes about four hours. Perhaps I should start practicing now.

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