A woman speaking into a megaphone in front of a pattern of faces. Almost all of them are dull and uninterested, but one face stands out looking interested and smiling.

Advocating for Sleep Apnea Awareness

What comes to mind when you hear the word advocate?  Advocating for sleep apnea awareness is important to me. When hearing the word advocate, I think of helping someone else. Especially someone who is unable to advocate for themselves.

However, thinking this over we are constantly advocating for ourselves. Well, at least I hope you are.

Advocating for sleep apnea awareness

In previous articles, I have spoken about my spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) diagnosis which is in addition to my sleep apnea diagnosis. My spinal muscular atrophy diagnosis has helped me fine-tune these advocacy skills for sleep apnea awareness.

Recoznizing sleepiness symptoms

Now that I am middle-aged, sometimes my friends will complain about small ailments. The ailment that catches my attention is sleepiness.

Sleepiness is usually not something that alarms most people. It’s usually considered normal to feel tired throughout the week. However, we know that it shouldn’t be normal. Sleepiness is usually a symptom of something else.

Asking more symptom questions

When my friends talk about sleep, my advocacy hat comes out. Most of my friends know about my sleep apnea. I’ll ask them about other symptoms like waking up with a dry sore throat, do they feel like they can fall right back to sleep immediately after waking up?  Have they been told they snore or stop breathing at night?

If they answer yes, I’ll suggest that they should talk to their doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. Sometimes I can tell they are not taking me seriously. This is where I will mix in some sports in hopes of driving home my point that sleep apnea is serious.

Sharing stories of famous people

Growing up in the Philadelphia area where I’m from, we all know Reggie White. Reggie was a legendary football player for the Philadelphia Eagles. He also played for the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. His nickname was Minister of Defense, and he was a freak of nature on the football field.

Reggie White died from untreated sleep apnea. This story usually resonates with my friends.

Advocating for the seriousness of untreated sleep apnea

Telling my friends the story of Reggie White is how I try to advocate for the seriousness of untreated sleep apnea. When people hear the story of how Reggie White died, there is usually some shock. How can a professional athlete die because of snoring?

Unfortunately, most people don’t recognize that snoring can be something more serious. Reggie White’s story should be a wake-up call for everyone on how serious untreated sleep apnea can be.

Why Reggie White's story resonates

The reason Reggie White’s story seems to resonate with my friends is that he was a well-conditioned athlete. We tend to think of professional athletes as indestructible.

Hearing about 1 of these professional athletes dying from something like sleep apnea can sometimes create a cause to action. Hopefully, by talking about sleep apnea and Reggie White’s story, I can convince at least 1 of my friends to get tested.

Why I advocate for sleep apnea awareness

Since I already deal with spinal muscular atrophy which has left me with limited strength, treating my sleep apnea with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is not a big deal for me. I’ve been using CPAP for over 25 years and it is just part of my normal routine. Reminding my friends that treatment is not that bad and, with time, CPAP will enhance their overall life brings me joy.

My hope is that if I can advocate for even 1 of my friends who suffers from sleep apnea, that’s a good thing.

Are you advocating for sleep apnea awareness with your friends? Please share a comment.

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