Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Somnus Sleep Clinic in the News
An article in the Clarion-Ledger newspaper features Somnus Sleep Clinic:
The lesson: Listen to your spouse.
For 23 years, John Kirk snored and Linda Kirk endured.
It got so bad about 10 years ago, John hardly slept - and often, neither did Linda.
John was tired all the time, went to bed early, skipped outings, stopped exercising and made sure to do important tasks in the morning, because he was so wiped out later in the day.
He'd often stop breathing for long periods while sleeping, awake gasping for air, and remember none of it in the morning.
But still, his wife's suggestions notwithstanding, he did not seek medical advice.
He wishes he had.
Like most other sleep disorders, sleep apnea isn't all that hard to deal with once you know you have it.
"My sense is there are an awful lot of people out there doing like I did for one reason or another, your ego, whatever," said Kirk, 55, an IT manager from Brandon.
That's almost certainly true, said Dr. Michael Rack, a specialist in sleep disorders.
"Sleep disorders are very common," said Rack, who left the sleep disorder clinic at the University of Mississippi Medical Center last year to help open Somnus Sleep Clinic in Flowood.
Rack said an estimated 2 to 4 percent of the population suffers from sleep apnea, as many as 10 percent from what's called restless leg syndrome, and an untold number from various forms of insomnia.
But apnea - when you stop breathing for extended periods during sleep - is "the bread and butter of sleep medicine," he said.
That's because it's so serious. Sleep apnea deprives your brain of oxygen. There's some evidence it also can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, heart trouble and loss of brain power.
Which is why Kirk thinks he used to forget things, like what restaurant he and Linda were going to for dinner.
What pushed him over the edge was when Linda told him a while back that she counted how long he'd stopped breathing while he was asleep. It was 30 seconds.
Unbeknownst to either of them, he was doing that all the time.
The National Institutes of Health points out sleep apnea can lead to heart disease, heart failure or stroke.
Linda looked for help and found Somnus, a sleep clinic with a homey atmosphere. John was reluctant to go to a sleep clinic because he was intimidated by what he figured would be a clinical, hospital-like atmosphere.
Clinic technicians hooked John up to a dozen electrodes and watched him sleep for about four hours in what's called a sleep study.
What they found was amazing: He wasn't breathing for 10 to 20 seconds every couple of minutes. That's considered a moderate case of sleep apnea.
After four hours of sleep, they woke him, hooked him up to a machine that helps people with sleep apnea breathe, and he slept like a baby for the rest of the night.
"For the first time in 20 years, he slept for five hours straight," said Linda.
The machine is called a CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It's basically a mask that gently blows air into your mouth. (in most cases, it's the nose)
That usually fixes the problem, Rack said.
A dentist can provide a device that's placed in the mouth and keeps the airway open.
In more severe cases, surgery to open an obstructive airway is sometimes necessary.
But the CPAP fixed Kirk's problem, he said.
It was a little weird, at first, sleeping with a mask on, he said, but it changed his life so much he'd go to bed wearing a Darth Vader mask and hugging an oxygen tank if he had to.
Since undergoing the sleep study three weeks ago, he said, he's been sleeping all night, every night. He's dreaming again, something he hadn't done in a long time because he wasn't sleeping deeply enough.
He's no longer snoring, isn't tired at work, and has some of his old personality coming back, Linda said.
In short, he's learned to listen to his wife.
"I can't overemphasize enough the importance of listening to your spouse," he said. "They're the people who suffer when you're snoring. They're the people who monitor you and worry.
"Without her," he said, "I would never have come in."