"Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone." -- Anthony Burgess
I did a lot of traveling on my job. On many occasions I traveled with a co-worker. We usually shared a room when we were on the road.
Having been told by my wife I snore, I had reservations about sharing a room with anyone else. The first night away I kept awake until my roommate went to bed. But then ... no sooner did his head hit the pillow, he began snoring ... and from that night on it was every man for himself.
Since I don't hear myself snore, it doesn't bother me. So what's the issue, you might be asking yourselves. Some folks snore so deafeningly their partners sleep in separate rooms to get a good night's rest. That hasn't happened to me -- yet.
I respect my wife for having tolerated my snoring over the years, which she attributed to stress relating to my job. But the snoring continued even after I retired in '96. Approximately five years ago, my wife came across an article on sleep apnea and suggested I mention it to our family doctor when I went in for my checkup.
The doctor assured me I was in good health but prescribed the sleep apnea test to determine if I needed help with my breathing at night.
I imagined I would be interviewed by a clinician about my snoring and that I would be loaded down with reading material on how to reduce my problem. I was wrong.
There must have been 30 of us who reported to the clinic one weekday afternoon. I gathered we were there for one reason: we all snore. After listening to a staff person explain sleep apnea, we were each issued a sleep test kit which charted our breathing pattern while we slept.
I found the apparatus cumbersome when I used it.
My equipment consisted of a face mask to strap over my head and cover my nose with a plastic hose attached that forces air into the nose piece.
I found the mask extremely uncomfortable to wear but managed to complete the test.
I received the results a few days later and was disappointed -- but not surprised -- to be told I suffer from sleep apnea.
On the other hand, the news came as no surprise to my wife who has been putting up with my snoring all these years.
After wearing the mask for a period of time and feeling no relief or improvement other than discomfort, I stopped using it and hoped my wife would understand. She didn't kvetch. If anything, she felt sorry for me. After all, she'd put up with my snoring for so long she probably couldn't bear the nighttime silence.
I all but forgot about sleep apnea until a couple months ago when a friend was diagnosed with the same problem. I commiserated with him before he showed me his new breathing apparatus.
It was obvious to me his machine was a vast improvement over my older model, and he seemed extremely satisfied with it.
I requested a new machine which I received and have been using ever since. As a sleep apnea sufferer, I realize the benefits of the machine and, like my friend, have no complaint.
If you are experiencing problems sleeping and are wondering why the fuss over such a little thing like snoring, hear me out because I was one of you for many years. I'm no doctor, so I'll leave the medical explanation to them. Let me give you my layman's pitch as to why it shouldn't be taken lightly.
We all agree snoring is disruptive to those folks who have to listen to it, but that's the least of problems. It's the chronic snorer and restless sleeper who run the risk of experiencing high blood pressure, strokes, heart attack, diabetes and other ailments if allowed to continue unchecked.
The following is an article that appeared in the July 2014 issue of Partners in Health published by Kaiser Permanente:
"Could there be a link between poor sleep and Alzheimer's disease? A study in the December issue of Journalism of the American Medical Neurology suggests that possibility. Researchers found that poor sleep is linked with a buildup of amyloid beta, a protein associated with Alzheimer's disease."
Still not convinced? To you skeptics: Why is it you wear a seat belt when you're in a car and think twice about smoking, but pooh-pooh the advice to have your doctor check your snoring or other sleeping disorders?
I'm convinced your move to consult your doctor can lead to adding a year or more to your life. And there are loved ones you have to consider!
Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.