Taking Sleep Apnea Seriously

Sleep is one of those things that's funny. Some people try to create this tough, macho approach that sleep isn't necessary.

Just type in the benefits of sleep and you'll see a list of benefits. Reducing stress, improving memory, reducing your risk of diabetes, maintaining a healthy heart are a few of the benefits you'll see.

I did not take sleep seriously in my youth

When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I thought using CPAP was unnecessary. I never took proper rest seriously. When I was in college, I was the king of staying up all night. I'd get 4 or 5 hours of sleep then go all day.

After graduation, when I started working, I'd always be doing something. I used to have season tickets to the Phillies. After work, I'd head down to the ballpark, watch a game, then grab a drink with my friends afterward. I lived about an hour from the ballpark. It wasn't unusual to get to bed around 1 AM. Then I'd be up around 6 AM to head to work.

I thought I was indestructible

Weekends were when I'd sleep in. However, Friday and Saturday nights were always late nights. I was your typical single guy. My friends and I were always out. We'd close the bars down then go grab breakfast somewhere. Most weekend nights, I wasn't getting to bed until 4 AM. I think most people that age think they are indestructible. I know I did.

No such thing as 'catching up on sleep'

My doctor and I talked about "catching up on sleep." He laughed and said there was no such thing. He explained that just because you get extra sleep a few times a week doesn't mean you're catching up. Once sleep is missed, you can't catch up on it.

This is especially true if you continue to burn the candle at both ends the rest of the week. Proper rest needs to be every night, not just when we can fit it in.

Reggie White's death was a wake-up call

I'm a huge sports fanatic. Growing up in the Philadelphia area, I have always been loyal to the Philly sports teams. One of my favorite players growing up was Reggie White. He held the nickname "Minister of Defense." He is widely regarded as one of the best defensive players to ever play in the NFL.

Four years after his playing career was over, he died. He was only 43. He died from a cardiac arrhythmia which was a result of his untreated sleep apnea.

Hearing that one of the sports stars that I watched growing up died from a condition that I had was a huge wake-up call. We think of professional athletes as bigger than life. These are people in peak physical condition. I was determined to take my sleep apnea more seriously at this point.

Let's take sleep apnea seriously

I know there are many people out there who haven't taken their diagnosis seriously. Like I mentioned earlier, there are many health benefits from proper sleep. I know it can be an extra burden to have this diagnosis. However, we are lucky that there is a relatively easy treatment.

I hope to encourage someone out there to re-evaluate your sleep apnea. Make an appointment to see a sleep specialist. Give your body what all bodies crave – a good night's rest!

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