To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
(attribution ~ http://americasstudies.com/)
My physician recently recommended that I undergo a sleep study. This took place in a sleep lab where my private room was like a high end hotel room without windows, a mini bar or private kidney shaped hot tub. And, by the way, I was hooked up to 30 electrodes, and a device pinching my right index finger while under the scrutiny of an infrared video camera. The electrodes were hooked up to various parts of my body, although the majority of them were attached to my head with some kind of waxy gel that made me look like a character in Clive barker’s cult classic horror film “Hell Raiser.”
Nighty night, sleep tight. I’ve never been one to count sheep anyway and it certainly didn’t work for me under those circumstances. Honestly, it felt like I didn’t sleep a wink. Although apparently I dozed off long enough to record enough data to analyze my sleep patterns, which revealed that I have severe sleep apnea.
Simply put, sleep apnea is a condition where your airway relaxes and constricts to the point where you actually stop breathing. This happens with enough frequency to actually prevent falling into a deep, restorative asleep. I had multiple such events recorded within a one hour period where I was not breathing for as long as 58 seconds. That’s almost a minute! I can’t hold my breath for a minute when I’m conscious. At that rate, I should be training for competitive free diving or spearfishing.
After learning some of the possible outcomes of untreated sleep apnea include obesity, heart attack, stroke, dementia and sudden death, I didn’t need too much convincing to begin using a CPAP machine. CPAP is an acronym for “Continued Positive Airway Pressure” which is delivered from a machine through a mask or nosepiece. The pumped air keeps my airway from constricting or closing altogether, thus ensuring that I continue to breathe while actually falling into restorative sleep. I figured I may as well go all in and opted for the complete Darth Vader CPAP Starter kit. This includes a Darth Vader mask, helmet, cape, storm trooper boots and a continuous recording of James Earl Jones saying: “Luke, I am your Father!”
So, now I now need a machine to sleep. It’s just comforting to know that along with all of my e mail, phone calls, credit card purchases and social networking activity being monitored by the NSA, all of my sleep data is now uploaded to a satellite in space. It’s nice to know somebody cares!
Although, as one of my friends pointed out: “They’re certainly watching but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they care.”