Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sleep Mystery Sloved?

For as long as I can remember, I've slept on my stomach. Occassionaly I'll sleep on my side, but never on my back.

It doesn't seem too odd, except that the reason I don't sleep on my back is that it always seems like I would have a nightmare whenever I would sleep on my back. Even today, if I have a nightmare, I would wake up and be lying on my back.

Now there's something that to the untrained just seems wierd. What possible corrolation could there be between sleeping on my back and nightmares? Why no nightmares when on my stomach or side?

Since we're adopting, we've taken to watching Adoption Stories on Discovery Health Channel. So now the channel is in the "there's nothing on" rotation. The other night, we discovered Mystery Diagnosis. It's essentially true House stories told by the patients and docs.

Last night, on the episode "Lethal Diet", the final story was about a preacher who had heart racing problems. He also had serious headaches and severe nightmares. After going round and round with meds, a parishoner mentioned to him that he should get a sleep test because of the nightmares.

So he goes into a sleep test and they find out that after about 75 minutes, his airways are blocked and for about 30-60 seconds he can't breathe. His oxygen drops and the brain sends a signal to the heart to make it pump harder and push oxygen around. His oxygen level drops 20% which can easily explain headaches and nightmares. They fixed the problem by hooking up an air pump and mask to prevent the sleep apnea from occuring.

After seeing this episode I freaked. Although I had never had headaches, I had experienced the heart pounding. I just thought it was due to the nightmare that made the heart pound. It might just be that I couldn't get enough oxygen into my body. It seems though, that something about sleeping on my back is causing the condition, because I haven't had a nightmare in months and I haven't woken up on my back in months. I'm actually getting very good rest as well, I don't feel excessively tired or have issues with sleep.

So for now, it seems like things are at least OK, since I have a preventative solution of continuing to sleep on my stomach. But on the next yearly checkup, I'm definately going to look into this, or at least see how my insurance will handle it and take steps from there.

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