Posted by: John McGerr | May 29, 2012


Towards the end of last year I was diagnosed with Sleep Aponea – something I had never heard of prior to be diagnosed with it. According to Wikipedia ‘Sleep apnoea (or sleep apnea in American English; /æpˈnə/) is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.‘  For more on the causes, symptoms and treatments see the links at the bottom of this article, but basically for me it’s a weakness at the back of my throat that closes up and doesn’t wok the way it should so my brain has to kick me awake at regular intervals so I remember to breathe. I worked for many years on different shift patterns and would have attributed daytime sleepiness to the effect of odd sleep patterns. A change to day shifts and regular hours should, in normal circumstances have resulted in better sleep – however it did not. Now that I have been educated to the signs and symptoms I can look back and see what signs were there, in this case ignorance wasn’t bliss. One of my co-workers however was himself a sufferer and suggested that i might have it as well and got me started on the road to diagnosis. This primarily involved my spending a night in a sleep laboratory in Dublin.

The outcome? I was having 75 apnoeas or episodes every hour! Even allowing for these episodes to be of short duration that’s quite a lot of interrupted sleep. Treatment is to use a CPAP device CPAP stands for Continuous Postive Air Pressure and is basically a pump, attached by a hose to a mask that fits over the nose to keep a flow of air pressure going and lets you breathe, without your brain having to kick you awake. There is no getting away from the fact that you have to wear a mask, attached to a hose, blowing air down(up?) your nose all night – but after almost six months of it I can attest to the benefits it brings and I can live with the odd irritating aspect of life as a mask wearer. One eye-opener for me was just how many people suffer from this world wide – I don’t know the exact figures but forty five million Americans are said to suffer from it, with mabye as many wore in the rest of the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Irish Sleep Apnoea Trust

Home Healthcare – provider of my device

Below is a photo of the device I use, or one very similar


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