Managing Sleep Apnea

18 Million Americans Suffer From Disorder

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More than 18 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea and many don’t even realize they have it.

“I’m a person by the grace of god I am sitting here,” said Suellen Meyer, who suffers from sleep apnea.

Meyer knows she’s lucky to be alive.

In 2011, she and her husband were driving to Tennessee when she fell asleep behind the wheel.

“Not only could I take our lives, but I wasn’t that far from the other lanes,” she said.

Sleep apnea is a general term for breathing problems during sleep.

“The body is struggling to breathe all night long,” said Matt Rees, at Henricks Regional Health Sleep Disorders Center.

Rees says people with sleep apnea stop breathing, up to 100 times, each night.

“At the end of each apnea there is a gasping wake up and constantly interrupts the sleep cycle,” he said.

Rees says you should see a doctor if you’re constantly tired during the day, if you’re a loud snorer and if you have irregular breathing.

Being overweight can also add to the problem.

Meyer has participated in two sleep studies and now uses a continuous positive airway pressure system to help her sleep through the night.

“People need to know how severe and serious it is. Don’t wait until you fall asleep at the wheel,” she warned.

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