John & Becky were that perfect couple, you know the type. Do everything together, have two perfect kids, look adorable at all times, live in a nice suburban home. The worst part is they’re genuinely nice people, the kind you can’t help but like to be around.
Imagine my surprise when John told me Becky won’t sleep in the same room anymore. I was stunned! My partner and I have our ups and downs but we always make up by bedtime; it’s our rule!
Turns out John & Becky have a different problem.
John is a snorer — not a cute little cartoon snore, but a full-on, wall-shaking, wake up the baby in the next room kind of snore.
Becky was miserable, exhausted all the time, irritable. Becky decided to visit a doctor, where the couples were prescribed a sleep study. Becky expected the worst …. and the study came back negative. So why was Becky, an otherwise healthy adult, so tired all the time?
How Did They Find the Problem?
John finally gave in and went to a sleep study program …. and tested positive for sleep apnea. He was devastated to realize how much damage sleep apnea had done to their relationship, unknowingly. John’s constant loud snores, snorts, and movements prevented Becky from getting any restful sleep.
Apparently, this is so common that an estimated 23% of American couples don’t sleep together because snoring and sleep apnea disturbs the partner’s ability to get adequate sleep.
John is now happily using a CPAP to breathe and sleep through the night, cuddled up with a happy spouse — once again the perfect couple.
It’s nice to hear happy endings to stories like these; unfortunately, not every story related to sleep disorders ends that way. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a dangerous syndrome that shouldn’t be ignored.
The Dangers of Sleep Apnea
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It’s even been scientifically proven to be as detrimental to drive when you’re tired as it is to drive under the influence. We are a nation of drivers — in trucks, cars, trailers, RVs, motorcycles …. and trains. The National Transportation Safety Board is a government agency that oversees and proposes regulations for safety in mass transit situations.
Over the last couple of decades, there have been dozens of commuter train accidents. Many happen because of people driving and stopping on crossings, and some are due to derailment. But what people aren’t talking about is the sheer volume happening due to untreated sleep apnea.
Just in the last couple of years, the NTSB has strongly urged individual transport companies to require testing. However, in 2017 a federal law mandating testing for drivers was repealed — scary when you think of how many people can be seated on a train.
More Sleep Apnea Statistics
In January 2017, more than 100 people were injured when a train conductor fell asleep at the wheel and the train crashed, then passed the bumper blocks and rammed into a wall at a Brooklyn train station. This crash happened less than a year after a very similar accident in a Hoboken, N.J. crash that killed a bystander in the waiting room when the wall collapsed.
In 2013, a train hurtled off a curve on a New York railway. That curve was rated to 30mph. The train was traveling at 82 mph. The conductor said he felt like he was in a fog. The brakes weren’t even engaged until the train started falling off the tracks. Tragically, 70 people were injured and four lost their lives that day.
Each one of these train conductors tested positive for sleep apnea after the fact. In response to these and other tragedies, the NTSB is now recommending sleep screenings for railway workers and has created a website for support: Railroader Sleep.
OSA is a life-damaging syndrome, not just to the person afflicted but to those around them, their loved ones, friends, and even perfect strangers. Get tested and save lives, even your own!
Stay healthy, faithful readers.
To learn more, contact 3B Lumin, a manufacturer and distributor of sleep therapy and oxygen therapy products.