Two years ago I re-married. My new bride, a beautiful woman in her early 50’s is also extremely fit and exceedingly toned. Also, at the time we married, she weighed all of about 98 pounds on her small 5′ 2″ frame.
Ours was a rather short and intense courtship, so I really did not know much about her physical and medical history beyond our brief time together and our conversations about the various minor ailments we had acquired as we’ve became older. I thought she was very thin, but then again, she told me she had always worked out religiously with weights and using Pilates techniques, and thus had never been overweight. She had had two children and had returned to her lower weight quickly after each pregnancy. So, I just accepted that she was the weight she wished to be….was maintaining that level and was just naturally very small.
Additionally, I could see that it would not be hard for her to remain so thin because she mostly ate only salads. Part of the reason for this was she had been diagnosed as having an intolerance to gluten and wheat products as well as some other grains. To say the least, that eliminates I lot of main stream food choices.
There are many adjustments to be made after living alone for so long. Soon one became very apparent for me, my wife snored. I don’t mean a dainty little snort once in awhile. I am talking what you might expect from a burly truck driver after a long tiring day on the road. Loud, really loud. Our pictures were rattling on the walls!
Laying there one night unable to sleep due to the commotion in our bedroom, I starting noticing a rhythm to her snoring. There was a build up, sort of a crescendo….leading to this long pause that seemed to go on and on forever. I remember thinking, “breathe, come on, breathe!”. And, all of a sudden she would. Then there would be a few minutes of regular breathing before the whole cycle began again.
Finally, one night I taped the sounds of her snoring. First, because she did not believe me, and second because I knew just enough about sleep apnea to wonder if this might be what was occurring. All along, however, I was under the illusion like I think many people are that sleep apnea only happens to overweight, mostly middle aged males.
A few trips to the doctor quickly corrected that misperception. To establish what was going on with her, the doctor had my wife go to a sleep clinic where she spent the night wired up to sophisticated instrumentation that measured her sleep activity, breathing and sleep cycles. As we found out, she definitely was suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnea. The sleep study showed that she was indeed getting very little of the stage of deep sleeping known as the “REM” (Rapid Eye Movement) stage.
Eliminating or affecting a cycle of one’s sleep pattern inevitable leads to problems. These sleep studies appear to be effective in identifying if that might be happening to an individual.
At the very least, hopefully if you have read this article to this point you will come to the same conclusion we have, Sleep Apnea is not only for people who are over-weight and middle aged. It is an affliction that can seemingly affect just about anyone. However….relief might be just a sleep study away.
In a future article, I will relate our experiences as my wife sorts through the variety of treatments for her sleep apnea.