#1 Posted by Karthas (104 posts) -

With an important, tragic anniversary coming up, I thought I should talk about something not related to games but very important.

Sleep Apnea

If you paid attention to the tweets from Ryan's father, you know there's a good chance this was the culprit or at least played a very large role. I know first hand how lethal this condition can be- I lost a father-in-law to it just 4 years ago. It's because of Sleep Apnea my mother went to bed with her husband and woke up next to a corpse. It's also important to me, because I have Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea is Fucking Serious

Put simply, Sleep Apnea is where you stop breathing when you're asleep. There is something interrupting the "automated breathing mechanism" your body uses to keep you alive, or obstructing the air pathway, and it could be a number of things that are congenital, illness, or weight related. In most cases, your body is eventually able to overcome the blockage and you start breathing again after a number of seconds- but there's always the chance that you might not, and that is what should scare you into acting.

"How do I know I have Sleep Apnea?"

There's a good set of warning signs- if you have ANY of these, get yourself checked.

  • Excessive Snoring (hell, any snoring get yourself checked- worse that could happen is you find out you're just annoying when you sleep)
  • Headaches in the morning: You know how if you hold your breath for too long you'll get a headache? You could be doing that all night. It's like being hungover without even getting to have the fun that caused it.
  • Daytime Sleepyness: Turns out, if you're getting knocked out of deep sleep every few seconds so your body can breathe you won't get a good night's sleep. Before I got treatment I'd have to start the day with back-to-back energy drinks.

There's a whole lot more but those are the big ones.- there's a whole list here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/basics/symptoms/con-20020286

"That's kinda vague, how can I know for sure?"

Go talk to your doctor. If you don't have a doctor, go get one. They'll likely schedule you for a Sleep Study. Easiest test you'll ever take, you just have to go to this office for the night and sleep while they monitor you. Generally you'll do two of these- one without a CPAP and with. If you're "lucky", they'll wake you up in the middle of it and put you on one because you're that bad off you're stopping breathing some insane number of times per hour (I want to say I was 30s/40s). I'm one of the lucky ones!

Treatment

So that CPAP thing I mentioned in the last section- that's how they treat most "Obstructive Sleep Apnea" (there are multiple kinds, this is the most common). Stands for "Continuous Positive Airway Pressure", it basically blows air into your nose/mouth to keep your sinus/throat/whatever is causing the apnea from closing off completely. Yes, you will look and sound a little bit like Darth Vader. Yes it's awkward to get used to. I'd start using it the last day of your work week so you have a couple nights of adjusting before you have to go back.

Also, there's multiple types of masks these days so you'll be able to find one that suits you. I could't do one over my nose (didn't fit right and blew into my eyes) and ended up with a "nasal pillow" mask that plugs into and blows directly into your nostrils.

I think that about covers it- GET TESTED. Seriously, it's not that bad and you could be much better off for it. I'll try to answer any questions you might have- but bear in mind that I'm not a doctor by any means.

#2 Posted by Brendan (8173 posts) -

Thanks for the info duder. This isn't a personal issue for me but its good that you're spreading the message

#3 Edited by MrCHUP0N (248 posts) -

@karthasmi: Thank you for this. Good knowledge for everyone.

Sometimes it can be as innocuous as a slightly misaligned air passageway. My girlfriend got a nighttime mouth guard to prevent nighttime grinding and suddenly her snoring and middle-of-the-night coughing fits decreased by a huge percentage. And she's healthy and lean. Now she's on invisalign and the snoring has returned. So even though a lot of people point to weight issues and even if you're in shape, get checked out.

#4 Posted by Johnny_Sailor (13 posts) -

My dad has sleep apnea, and after years of bad nights of sleep, and drifting off while at work or driving (yikes!) he finally got tested at a sleep clinic. They gave him a cpap, and it's made a world of difference. He gets a full night's sleep, and isn't drifting to sleep during the day.

#5 Posted by cloudymusic (1234 posts) -

It's definitely a serious issue, and one that people shouldn't be ashamed of or feel like they can "beat it on their own" or something. It can affect anyone, and the downsides of leaving it untreated are really significant. (At the very least, you'll be tired all the time, which isn't great in itself!) As long as you're good about wearing it every single night, the scariest side effects can be more or less completely mitigated.

If you have health insurance of some kind, the tests and CPAP fees are usually extremely minor, so go get it checked out.

Good idea making this PSA.

#6 Posted by pinner458 (857 posts) -

When i found out about Ryan my Mam was the only one around I could grieve to at that moment in time, I was extremely distraught for days after, of course. Eventually it came out that it was because of his sleep apnea, only a few months later my Mam was diagnosed with it and got a breathing machine and I reminded her about Ryan and told her that was how he died. Sometime after that she passively said to me "oh sometimes I don't wear it when I don't feel like being uncomfortable" and I freaked at her, again referencing Ryan. To my knowledge she still occasionally decides not to wear it. So infuriating/disconcerting.

#7 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

It does not affect me personally, but great advice nonetheless. Thank you for sharing!

#8 Posted by jiggajoe14 (838 posts) -

I do have to deal with this. My dad is a respiratory therapist and is very familiar with obstructive sleep apnea. I am a notoriously loud snorer and there are times when I really feel like I haven't gotten a good night of sleep. I do need to get a cpap machine from my dad sometime soon.

My mom also has it, but rarely uses it for some reason. Anyways, great advice duder. Sleep apnea is a bitch and something that should not be taken lightly.

#9 Edited by Sergio (2262 posts) -

I had suspected I had sleep apnea before Ryan posted pictures of himself before his sleep study on twitter, but never bothered getting tested for various reasons. I eventually got tested and now sleep with a CPAP.

Somethings that people should know:

  1. Sleep apnea doesn't affect only overweight adult males. Anyone can have it regardless of their gender, age, or physique. Even children may have sleep apnea. After I was finally officially diagnosed, I realized that I've probably had sleep apnea since the 5th grade - and I was a skinny kid. If you're a parent, observe your children's sleep some time for how they breathe.
  2. Snoring may be a symptom. You can have the worst snoring in the world, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you have sleep apnea. You should get tested. You may also snore very little or not at all. Check for other symptoms, because you may still have sleep apnea. If you think you have other symptoms, then get tested.
  3. You don't necessarily have to go in for a sleep study where you spend the night there. There are take home tests that your doctor may help you arrange to take. It's basically a CPAP that is monitoring your sleep along with a simple heart rate monitor. They want to check how often your sleep is interrupted. If it's a lot, they can diagnose you right away and order a CPAP for you. If it's not a lot, but they're still concerned, then they can arrange for an overnight sleep study where you do have to go in.
  4. One symptom not in that Mayo Clinic list that I've seen elsewhere is memory problems. Your brain is still working when you're asleep. Two things are happening with sleep apnea: your brain isn't getting enough oxygen; if you're waking up, even if you don't remember being awake, your brain isn't being allowed to do what it's supposed to be doing.
#10 Edited by Fattony12000 (7582 posts) -

#11 Posted by LochNessie82 (36 posts) -

My husband decided to go in for a sleep study in January, in part because of Ryan. He was diagnosed with moderately bad sleep apnea and got a cpap two weeks later. For anyone worried about the cpap making too much noise, his is quieter than a ceiling fan and much quieter than his snoring. I've made him promise to never sleep without wearing it, naps included! I still remember shaking him in the night when I realized he wasn't breathing. It was terrifying. Please, talk to a medical professional if you think you have sleep apnea. It is an easy problem to diagnose and fix!

#12 Posted by LochNessie82 (36 posts) -

@fattony12000: She did such a great job on those! Mine is hanging up in above my nightstand.

#13 Edited by pekoe212 (460 posts) -

I was first made aware of the serious risks of sleep apnea when I visited my grandparents' newly purchased house. The previous owner had been a 30-year-old man who had died in his sleep from it. Setting aside the most serious risk (death), I imagine repeated deprivation of oxygen to heart, brain, etc. and lack of sleep, every night, would over time cause great stress on the body. Health...quality of life...super important..what else to say? This is a good thread.

#14 Posted by RadZombie (35 posts) -

I just got tested a few weeks ago and found out that my case of sleep apnea is so bad that I would consistently stopped breathing more than once a minute! Not only is this dangerous but it basically stops my body from entering critically restorative REM sleep. I was issued a CPAP a little more than a week ago and have been using it every night. It took a little while to get used to the CPAP, but I have much more energy in the morning now that I'm getting the real REM sleep that I need and my wife certainly appreciates that I'm no longer snoring like a chainsaw or scaring her with my breathing troubles.

If it weren't for Ryan Davis bringing this up on the Bombcast, I likely would not have had enough awareness that I might have sleep apnea. Thanks Ryan and Giant Bomb!

#15 Posted by Scullinator (514 posts) -

I am constantly falling asleep during the day time. I am also a very loud snorer. Falling asleep at work is becoming a huge embarrassment. Im overweight and I am almost cretin I have sleep apnea. Im 34 and getting married in 4 months. Im hoping loosing weight will help with my problem. I just dont think I would ever get used to wearing a breathing mask. I have a hard enough time sleeping as it is, but maybe all those problems trace back to having sleep apnea.

Im gonna take this an another sign that I need to get tested. Soon. I just got Obamacare earlier this year. Time to put it to good use.

#16 Posted by Karthas (104 posts) -

@scullinator: Do it! While losing weight will help, it's not always 100% of the problem. Plus, losing weight will go a lot easier if you aren't so tired during the day. Once I got on my CPAP I was able to manage the gym a lot easier. I then backslid a bit once my wife started making wedding cakes but that's another issue. I'm so used to the mask now sleeping without it is really difficult on the very rare occasion I've had to.

#17 Posted by KoolAid (1034 posts) -

I was actually just diagnosed with Apnea myself. I had no idea. You hear someone say something like "You stop breathing in your sleep" and you think you would notice something like that. I knew I snored, but I really had no idea until I shared a hotel room with a friend and he recognized it.

I don't get headaches or fall asleep randomly. But I am pretty tired in the morning even after 9 hours of sleep. I figured I would have mild Apnea, but after the sleep test they said I stop breathing 38 times an hour! I have an appointment to get set up with a CPAP machine next week. I'm actually kind of excited to see if I really do have a lot more energy.

It is scary, especially with what happened to Ryan. I don't know the details, but from what I can tell, the danger lies in low blood oxygen levels leading to sudden heart attacks in your sleep. I haven't read anything about people who stopped breathing and didn't start again. It's definitely a good reason to get in shape.

Honestly, I might consider just getting surgery to fix the issue. I don't want it hanging over my head for the rest of my life...

But seriously, if you snore, get tested! I had no fucking clue something was wrong. How can you? How are you supposed to know what's normal amount of tired for waking up in the morning? You only have your experience. It was really easy to get tested at home, and hell, my friend could have saved my life.

#18 Posted by The_Boots (84 posts) -

@lochnessie82: As the husband in question, I can say that I wouldn't ever want to sleep without the cpap. I used to wake up with a numb throat from all the snoring. Ryan's problems eerily mirrored my own. Diagnosed about the same time, sleep studies at the same time, laughed when he talked about adjusting to the cpap at the same time... His death has been motivating me to lose weight ever since.

#19 Edited by BakerMikeRomeo (79 posts) -
@scullinator said:

I just dont think I would ever get used to wearing a breathing mask.

I never thought I'd get used to the weird-ass mouthguard I have to wear to keep me from grinding my teeth away at night, but after about the fourth night, it was all cool. It's like a hat or a watch or a holster -- it feels weird when you put it on and when you take it off, but all the time in between it's like it's not there.

And like the OP said, there's a wide variety of mask styles, so you can get a couple when you first get the machine and try them all out.

Point is, don't let that fear keep you from saving your own life.

ETA: Thanks to KarthasMI for bringing up this potentially life-saving topic.

#20 Posted by Sergio (2262 posts) -

@scullinator said:

I just dont think I would ever get used to wearing a breathing mask.

I never thought I'd get used to the weird-ass mouthguard I have to wear to keep me from grinding my teeth away at night, but after about the fourth night, it was all cool. It's like a hat or a watch or a holster -- it feels weird when you put it on and when you take it off, but all the time in between it's like it's not there.

And like the OP said, there's a wide variety of mask styles, so you can get a couple when you first get the machine and try them all out.

Point is, don't let that fear keep you from saving your own life.

ETA: Thanks to KarthasMI for bringing up this potentially life-saving topic.

He should also look into pillows that work with their CPAP.

I already couldn't handle the over-the-nose style of mask, so went with the nasal pillows. Unfortunately, I've gotten used to sleeping on my stomach, because as a kid, sleeping on my back would cause me to jerk awake just as I would fall asleep - possibly due to sleep apnea. I'm trying to fix that, since it's also bad for your back, but until then, a pillow that is contoured to accommodate the CPAP mask helps.

#21 Posted by development (2649 posts) -

My dad has sleep apnea, and after years of bad nights of sleep, and drifting off while at work or driving (yikes!) he finally got tested at a sleep clinic. They gave him a cpap, and it's made a world of difference. He gets a full night's sleep, and isn't drifting to sleep during the day.

I wish my dad would get a fucking CPAP machine. He makes the bullshit excuse of "the masks aren't comfortable so I can't sleep," but I'm certain he hasn't tried every kind of mask (there are a bunch). Some people just have too much fucking pride. It sucks.

#22 Posted by zedman (114 posts) -

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea 6 months ago, it was my wife who told me i stop breathing in the night, she would shake me to make sure i started breathing again. I had no idea until she told me and took a video showing me apparently choking or struggling to breath it was horrible to watch because i had no recollection of it in the morning. They tested me at home and it came back severe sleep apnea A.H.I of 28 although CPAP sucks and i hate it with mask leaks and marks on my face and my gut fills up with air. even though all of that i will always wear it because i remember what happend to Ryan

#23 Posted by ToTheNines (842 posts) -

I am pretty sure I have it to some degree. All though not as heavy set as Ryan was, I have gotten a bit overweight in 2013 and I plan to fix that first before getting tested.

#24 Posted by GeneralBison (419 posts) -

Veronica Belmont suffers from sleep apnoea, here's to raising awareness!

#25 Edited by fisk0 (4519 posts) -

I guess I should check this out :/ I regularly wake up with headaches, I'm pretty sure I snore and once a couple of years ago I woke up unable to breathe and kinda had to manually force myself to breathe for a few minutes before it got "automated" again. Got really scared when that happened but never did anything about it.

#26 Edited by HerbieBug (4208 posts) -
#27 Posted by cabrit_sans_cor (136 posts) -

I thought it may have been sleep apnea...

But yeah, it isn't a joke. A sleep study isn't fun, but it's a small price to pay for decent sleep for the rest of your life.

#28 Posted by James_Hayward (490 posts) -

@fattony12000: She did such a great job on those! Mine is hanging up in above my nightstand.

Those are fantastic. I searched but couldn't find any more info about them? Could one of you link me up?

#29 Posted by LochNessie82 (36 posts) -

@james_hayward: Chibijenova on the site made them! You can send her a tweet to @Chibijenova or go to her Etsy store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/phoenixfirearts). She might be willing to make more if there is enough interest. The last set she made was 5 hoops.

#30 Posted by Fattony12000 (7582 posts) -

@fattony12000: She did such a great job on those! Mine is hanging up in above my nightstand.

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@james_hayward: Chibijenova on the site made them! You can send her a tweet to @Chibijenova or go to her Etsy store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/phoenixfirearts). She might be willing to make more if there is enough interest. The last set she made was 5 hoops.

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#31 Edited by dagas (2930 posts) -

Randomly watching an old quick look with Ryan in it made me concerned again about sleep apnea. I had no idea I had it until I started sleeping next to a woman during the night a couple of years ago (since you need someone else to tell you that you have it since you are asleep when it happens). I try to not sleep on my back and not get drunk because those things make it worse I've read.

Anyone living in Sweden who have had experience with it? What should I do? I called the health care center when I first found out about it and they didn't seem to care much, didn't even want to book an appointment.