Sleep Report for May 2021

Since my last sleep report we got a new bed! It had been a long time, and the old mattress was probably getting worn out, so yeah, that’s the big change this time around. My insomnia hasn’t been completely cured, but May was a good month! There were only two nights that came in under 6 hours of CPAP usage. I’ll say “CPAP Usage” instead of sleep because I’ve made a concerted effort to not leave the bed when I wake, but instead lie there with my mask on trying to fall asleep again. It’s something I’ve been working on, and it’s gotten better.

Part of this improvement is due to the new bed. Our old bed was a queen mattress, and this one is a split king, which means when I move around my wife does not really feel movement on the bed. Couple that with a larger bed so we can sleep a bit further apart and I think that’s helped quite a bit. We thought about separate beds, but ultimately decided to try this first, and it’s been pretty good, at least for me. (She is not sleeping as well as she did.) Oh, the new mattresses are memory foam, by the way.

I think I’ve also been under less stress lately (though to be honest, the last half of May was extremely stressful in some ways, but I still managed to sleep pretty good.) I still wake up tired and it takes me time to get moving in the morning, but I am old, and getting older (weird, right?) so there is that.

I may try to do these reports monthly to see how it goes. I still somewhat hate my CPAP machine. It’s got a humidifier, but it works for shit, and I get dried out a lot. Even now, when it’s not winter and shouldn’t be too dry in the house. Frustrating, for sure, but at least I haven’t died in my sleep yet! (Fingers crossed.)


Pandemic Sleep

It’s been nearly 10 years since I started using a CPAP machine. It has helped me sleep, possibly kept me alive, and sometimes made my life a living hell. But hey, check out this clip of me snoring from 2006. Things have improved!

I think I’ve had insomnia all of my adult life. And I’ve suffered from insomnia many of those years. When I was younger I though “Ah! Insomnia? Awesome! I can get more done if I don’t sleep!” I even knew a guy who named his company “Insomnia Development” in reference to staying up late, working on software projects rather than sleeping. Yeah, it’s just unhealthy.

2020 was… rough. Not just because of the pandemic, though that didn’t help. It was the most stressful year for me in so many ways. I started to suffer from anxiety and depression in 2019 and it rolled into 2020 full steam ahead. Things have improved since then, but for the past few months my sleep has not been great. (I mean, it’s never been great.)

I pulled the data from my CPAP to take a look at the last year (as in, 365 days, give or take a few.) I tend to say “I only get about 4 hours of sleep” and I wanted to check on that. I was a bit off, but it’s good to remember that the number on the CPAP shows usage time, not sleep time. So if I lie away from 5:30am to 6:30am before turning off the machine, that hour still counts. Anyway, here are the numbers:

I slept for 8 hours just 4 nights. (Well, it’s actually 3, but one was 7 hours and 59 minutes, so I’m going to count it.)

Between 7 and 8 hours? 78 nights.

Between 6 and 7 hours? 131 nights.

Between 5 and 6 hours? 92 nights.

Between 4 and 5 hours? 32 nights.

Less than 4 hours? 23 nights.

And, supposedly… one night I slept 9 hours and 13 minutes. I don’t know how this is possible. (Wait, the night before I only slept 1 hour and 16 minutes!)

Looking at the numbers, I tend to get more than 5 hours most nights, and sometimes over 7 hours. Maybe it just feels like only four hours. (Again, some of these times may be slower due to being awake with the machine on.)

I do tend to fall asleep very quickly. But I often awake at 4am or 5am. I can’t really explore biphasic sleep because I have a job and a spouse who is a very light sleeper. I once used the toaster oven at 5am and she asked me about it at 8am. I basically just leave the bed and go to another bed and rest for a few hours in the morning if I wake up before 7am.

The thing about insomnia, for me anyway, is that you’re just exhausted. Tired, worn out, run down. Low energy. And it sucks, and it’s hard. On the days I can get 7 hours, it’s pretty good! I can’t imagine what it’s like to regularly get at least 8 hours of good sleep every night.

Oh, I used OSCAR to get the CPAP data from an SD card. A friend of mine has a WiFi enabled CPAP that sends data to the cloud and his doctor. I do not have that.


CPAP Progress


Back in November of last year I did a sleep study, and as expected, I’ve got sleep apnea, so I ended up getting a CPAP machine at the beginning of December. Since it’s been a little over a month of using it, I thought I’d write up the experience so far…

The first week or so was a bit rough… besides getting used to the mask, I was experiencing terrible dry mouth. The dry mouth issue was due to the fact that we keep it pretty cold in our bedroom (we use a heated blanket) and the nurse I met with told me they would ship me a special heated hose which would help with the dryness. Getting the hose took over a week due to a few mix-ups, but once I got it, things were much better.

Let me just say right now… I never knew I could sleep so good.

For pretty much my entire adult life, I got terrible sleep. When I was younger, it didn’t bother me that much, but it’s gotten worse and worse in recent years. Besides not getting enough sleep myself, I’ve annoyed the crap out of my wife with my snoring. So while I wasn’t sleeping well, neither was she. In the past year both of us have taken turns on the couch just so we’d both be able to get some sleep.

So… the good sleep. Finally, some good, solid sleep. Before the CPAP, I could have “slept” for 8+ hours, and still gotten out of bed completely exhausted, but as it is now, I can sleep 6 hours, and wake up knowing that I can get through the day without falling asleep or even getting drowsy. I’m awake, alert, and more engaged. I even dream now! For years I didn’t dream much, due to the fact that I never got into REM sleep. That’s changed as well, and I’m dreaming quite a bit now.

But it’s not all sleepy dreams and happiness. Even though I’m getting good sleep, my wife is still struggling with my amazing new ability to sleep. Here’s where I get into the bad parts of the CPAP.

You might thing that the CPAP machine itself is noisy, but it’s really very quiet, so that noise isn’t an issue, but what is an issue is the mask I wear. To put it on requires two snaps. “Click! Click!” goes the mask when I put it on. So if I get in bed later than her, I’m making noise. If I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I need to remove the mask, and then put it back on, so I’m making noise. Alternately, I can keep the mask on, but remove the hose, and that goes “Snap!” when it attaches. More noise… But wait! There’s also the Velcro adjustment straps. “Rip! Rip! Rip! Rip!” if I need to adjust for air leaks. As for the machine, well, the power button makes a “Click!” though not as loud as the mask, and the LED display is bright enough to light up the room, so I keep it covered with a piece of fabric.

All in all, I’d love to see some improvements in the silencing of the whole process… but ignoring all that, it’s still pretty damn sweet.

Wearing the mask can be annoying, but when I think of the alternative, I’d prefer to wear the mask and actually get some sleep.

Oh, I also talked to one person who said it freaked them out, and they were worried that the power might go out and they wouldn’t be able to breathe and… It doesn’t work that way. CPAP is “continuous positive airway pressure” not a respirator. You can keep breathing (and stay alive!) even if it shuts off.

And yeah, the mask isn’t fun like a Halloween mask, but like I said, it’s worth it for the change its made in my life.

Thanks Mr. CPAP!


Sleep Study

Sleep Study

Well, I finally did it. After years decades of not sleeping well, and snoring away the time I do spend sleeping, I did a sleep study. I’ve been wanting to do it for a few years, but you either need insurance or money to do one, and in the past, I’ve had neither…

Yeah, I’ve got sleep apnea. If you don’t know what that is, it basically means you stop breathing while you are sleeping. You don’t have to be a medical doctor to know that’s probably a bad thing. In fact, it’s believed that sleep apnea may have contributed to Reggie White’s death.

I’ve got friends with sleep apnea who got tested, and ended up with CPAP machines. One told me it changed his life, and urged me to get tested. (Hey Les, I finally did it!)

The test itself was a lot of fun for a nerd like me. They connected 27 sensors to my body to capture data. This included 15 on the head, one on each ankle, some on the chest, back, and stomach to monitor breathing, and a pulse sensor on the finger. (Interestingly enough, I’ll be getting my own pulse sensor very soon.)

They wire you up and let you sleep a few hours to monitor things, and then (if needed) put a CPAP mask on you, and it helps you breathe. It was a little weird, but I’m sure I’ll get used to the mask, especially if it means better sleep and better health. (The machines are also much quieter than they used to be.)

I was also told that surgery can be an option rather than a CPAP machine, but they do not recommend it, and it doesn’t always work. I’m cool with the technology instead.

I did do a little probing about the data that got collected from the study. I asked it if was just numerical data from the sensors, perhaps in a CSV file. The technician said that was “basically” correct. (It was hard to gauge how technical the technician was.) I asked about getting a copy of my data. They told me I’d need to ask the doctor, as it was for him. I personally think it should be available to me. I’m the patient, right? Isn’t the data about me? Shouldn’t they be required to share it with me?

Anyway, I was told that I slept good with the mask on. I didn’t feel like I did, but I think “medically” I probably slept good. I should find out in a few weeks when I get my own machine for home use. (The mask probably wasn’t optimal either, as they spend some of the time adjusting the pressure and monitoring the sensor data. Hopefully they’ve got it all dialed in at the end.)

Oh, I was also told that the home machine logs data and the doctor takes a look at that data as well. Anyone know how to get that data from the machine? :)