Better sleep changed MaryAnn’s life for the better.
Like many people with sleep problems, MaryAnn tried to ignore them. “I probably had sleep apnea for 15 to 20 years, before I was forced to do something about it,” she says.
Untreated sleep apnea interrupted MaryAnn’s breathing dozens of times a night, and, as a result, she awoke each day feeling exhausted.
Michael Alter, MD, of Fairview Sleep Centers in Brooklyn Park, explains that sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — might not get enough oxygen.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
Dr. Alter says having sleep apnea is like sleeping in a room where an alarm clock goes off every few seconds all night long. Even if sleep apnea sufferers fall back to sleep immediately, they still wake up in the morning feeling like they haven’t slept at all.
“I was so exhausted that I couldn’t function,” says MaryAnn, an art consultant, who co-owns their family-run business. MaryAnn’s sleep problem also led to low blood pressure and severe depression.
MaryAnn was so tired that she needed her husband’s help to get to the doctor. Her doctor recommended an overnight sleep study at a nearby Fairview Sleep Center. The study confirmed that MaryAnn has sleep apnea. A sleep technologist fitted her with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to keep her airway open and worked with MaryAnn until she could comfortably wear the CPAP and sleep through the night. That’s when MaryAnn’s life began to change for the better. Now she says she has the energy she did in her thirties and has regained a positive outlook on life.