Tax consultant and sleep apnea patient
"Once I started treatment for sleep apnea, I had more energy for my loved ones. Now I can run after my grandchildren."
Cindy Snyder’s Restless Nights Are History
Cindy Snyder has always been a night owl – but one of the reasons she postponed her bedtime was because she had trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Not only did the Midland resident have trouble falling asleep, she also woke up many times during the night. Still, she never realized she had a sleep disorder until she went to neurologist Faith Fuentes, M.D., for help with migraines. Dr. Fuentes examined her and suspected that a sleep disorder might actually be causing the migraines. She recommended that Cindy take part in a sleep study at the Sleep Disorders Lab at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland.
At the Sleep Disorders Lab, Cindy slept while surface electrodes on her head, chest, legs and a finger tracked her stages of sleep, respiration, airflow from her nose and mouth, heart rate and oxygen saturation. Audio and visual monitoring also was performed.
“They explain everything to you, so you’re not worried or scared. The arrangement with the electrodes and the monitoring felt awkward but after 20 minutes or a half hour, I fell asleep,” Cindy said. The Sleep Disorders Labs at MidMichigan feature private rooms with normal beds – not hospital beds – to help patients feel at home so they can reproduce their usual sleep.
During the sleep study, people are tested for several types of sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia and restless leg syndrome, which can cause leg spasms during sleep, and narcolepsy, which brings on attacks of sleep during the day. Cindy was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which is a potentially life-threatening disorder that causes a patient to stop breathing for a few seconds – sometimes as often as a hundreds of times – during sleep. It was recommended that she use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device to treat it.
A CPAP device is smaller than a shoebox and can be placed on a nightstand. A flexible tube connects the machine typically to a nasal mask that is worn over the nose and/or mouth. The machine blows air at a prescribed, or titrated, pressure determined by a physician. The increased air pressure keeps a patient’s airway from collapsing as the patient breathes. A Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machine is another device often used to treat sleep apnea. It uses a similar system of tubing and a mask, but it allows for two pressure settings: one for inhalation, another for exhalation. Because of its dual settings, it’s especially beneficial for people who require higher air pressures, and for people with neuromuscular diseases.
Wearing the mask that is attached to the CPAP or BiPAP device can be unusual at first – especially for people who are claustrophobic, as Cindy is. Cindy said she tried three kinds of masks before she found one that was right for her. MidMichigan Home Care, helped Cindy find the type of arrangement that worked best for her. Cindy’s CPAP device leaves most of her face clear, as it is positioned above her upper lip and under her nose. It has small nasal pillows that gently seal the device into the base of her nostrils.
Cindy, 55, noticed a change in her sleep patterns and her health about a month after she started using the CPAP machine. A few years after her original visit to the Sleep Disorders Lab, Cindy underwent a second sleep test and adjustments were made in her CPAP machine’s pressure setting to adapt to changes in her stress levels and weight.
She sleeps through the night now and wakes more rested. The migraines are history. It’s easier for her to concentrate, she’s less moody and she can handle stress better.
“I can feel the difference and even my family has noticed it,” she said.
If you're concerned that you're not getting enough sleep, take our online sleep quiz and discuss the results with your doctor. Your doctor may refer you for a sleep study at one of MidMichigan's Sleep Disorders Labs, conveniently located throughout the middle of Michigan. CPAP and BiPAP devices are available through MidMichigan Home Care, which offers sales, rental, service and home delivery of medical equipment and supplies.