Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sleep Apnea and Weight Loss...

Yep... that was me (no not literally). I could fall asleep anywhere,
doing anything, even mid sentence sometimes.

I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea in the summer of 2004 by my mom, of all people lol. She had already been diagnosed with her sleep apnea and was sleeping better with the use of her CPAP. One morning I went up into her room to talk to her about something and I remember, she was sitting at the desk on the computer chair in her room and I flopped on her bed... Somewhere mid convo, I fell asleep (as I always did when my apnea was at it's worst). When I woke up maybe 5 minutes later my mom was sitting there staring at me (kinda creepy - love you mom) and she said to me, "Rach, you have sleep apnea. I want you to make an appointment with the pulmonologist and go for a sleep study." 

I was so upset... The idea of having to sleep with that mask and look like Darth Vader every night was unfathomable, but at the same time I remember feeling relieved that this almost narcoleptic behavior I was exhibiting may stop! After all, I had already fallen asleep behind the wheel twice, both times with other people in the car. The first time I almost hit an 18 wheeler and the second time I was woken up by flashing police lights pulling me over for switching lanes without signaling. 

So I went for my sleep study and sure enough, as much as any child HATES admitting their parents are right, my mom was right. The second sleep study was my fitting for my mask and CPAP setting. I think that night was the best night of sleep I have ever had! I start sleeping with my new CPAP... 

Fast forward.... June of 2011, right after my separation, I decided I didn't want to wear my CPAP anymore. There were many reasons for this decision. The two main ones were... 
  •  It was always a thing in my marriage that my ex-husband would kiss me good night and put my mask on before we went to sleep and I just couldn't wear it because every night I put it on myself I'd fall asleep crying thinking about him... 
  • I was going to start dating again... Who the hell would want to sleep next to Darth Vader... Oh yea because that's uber SEXAY!! NOT! I wasn't doin' that sorry.... 
The first couple of months were great. I was awake and feeling great and had a ton of energy. I felt a new freedom from sleeping with the machine on my face every night. Then I bought a new fitbit... It was all downhill from there...
You guys remember my fitnit... Awesome tool and the new version comes with a step counter! Check out my review here.

I started tracking my sleep with the fitbit and here is what I found... Out of the 6 hours and 9 minutes I was "asleep" I only got 3 hours and 6 minutes of ACTUAL SLEEP!!!!
Ugh, guess that means I still need my machine after all... I fought the idea for another few months until other things started happening...

First, I started getting tired again. I would fall asleep when hanging out with my friends. Then, I started to notice no matter how much I slept I never felt rested. Then I started working... My new schedule was enough to push me over the edge. I fell asleep at work!

There was one more thing I noticed. I was no longer losing weight? Could the two be correlated?

Lose weight while you sleep. It sounds like something you'd hear on a late night infomercial -- just around the time you are reaching for that bag of cookies because, well, you can't sleep.

But as wild as the idea sounds, substantial medical evidence suggests some fascinating links between sleep and weight. Researchers say that how much you sleep and quite possibility the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite.

In fact, have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of leptin and ghrelin.

But Pixie, you had a VERTICAL SLEEVE GASTRECTOMY... You don't have Ghrelin anymore!?! Nope sorry my friends... Here is where you are wrong. Although the main producer of Ghrelin is in the cells lining the fundus of the human stomach and epsilon cells of the pancreas (Which I HAVE had removed), ghrelin is also produced in low levels in the pituitary gland, which I still have!

Interesting side fact I found while doing some research... In fetuses, it seems that ghrelin is produced early by the lung and promotes growth.
Leptin and ghrelin work in a kind of "checks and balances" system to control feelings of hunger and fullness, explains Michael Breus, PhD, a faculty member of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and director of The Sleep Disorders Centers of Southeastern Lung Care in Atlanta. Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full.
So what's the connection to sleep? "When you don't get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don't feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food," Breus tells WebMD.

I finally decided to start using my CPAP again... New problem, My new skinny face was too small for my face mask... In order to avoid leaks I was wearing my mask way to tight and I was waking up every morning in pain with horrible marks on my face. The skin on my nose was broken. Even though I was losing weight again... The pain was enough to make me stopped wearing my CPAP again.

Nasal Pillow
The guy I have been dating, who also happens to work for a respiratory supply company, did a little research for me and he found my answer! He told me to purchase a Nasal Pillow. They are little gel cusions that you place over your nose under your mask the prevent breakage of the skin. They can be purchased online in pink or blue for $17 plus tax and shipping. I bought one immediately and it has been a life saver! It makes my face mask much more comfortable and my nose is all healed. I no longer wake up in pain and I feel much more rested in the morning. I am going to track my sleep with my CPAP this week and I will keep you updated! I hope some of you find this helpful if you are struggling like I was.

Sleeve Pixie

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