If you calculated the number of hours you slept in your life, it would be quite alarming. For example, if you assume you sleep eight hours every night (I wish), over a 70 year lifespan, that would be 204,400 hours. Imagine what you could accomplish in 200,000 hours. (Actually, probably nothing if you stopped sleeping. The scientists haven’t figured out exactly why or how, but sleeping seems to recharge your body, and without it you are worthless. But who needs a scientist to tell you that?)
In the past 18 years, I should have slept 52,560 hours. Today I have documented evidence that I am sleep deprived. By as much as 28,725 hours.
I was shocked. I thought it would somewhat less than that.
Back in 1992, on the urging and advice of a family friend, I went to see a “sleep doctor” and was formally diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. I was given a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, and have been using it ever since. Apparently not as faithfully as I thought. I know I’ve slept more than four hours/night since then, but the hour meter on my “sleep machine” shows only 23, 834.3 hours. I know I don’t get eight hours of sleep every night, but this is a lot fewer hours than I expected to see on the meter. I usually shoot for at least six hours of sleep every night. And that’s usually enough when the machine is working and I use it faithfully.
Problem is, lately it seems the machine hasn’t been working so well. And, when I called the medical supply house to get a new set of filters, they said my machine is so old they don’t make the filters for it any longer. But I can’t get a new machine without a doctor’s prescription.
So a couple of weeks ago I arranged for an updated sleep study to see if maybe the pressure on the machine needed to be adjusted, and of course to get the prescription for a new machine. A sleep study is one of those things you’d think you can’t do. With all the wires hooked up to you, and people watching you sleep, it seems too creepy to fall asleep. But when you’re sleep deprived – well, let’s just say I could fall asleep anyplace, anytime. (Facts in evidence: I have fallen asleep in the dentist’s chair, in straight-back wooden chairs, dozed off while driving, and have rarely seen an entire 10:00 newscast.) For the sleep study, you go to the hospital and they attach about 15-20 wires to your body – on your legs, chest, neck, and all over your head. Fasten a strap around your chest, and one around your belly, and tuck you in for a cozy night’s rest. (There’s a good picture of what this looks like on the Wikipedia page for sleep apnea)
When you get all hooked up, the nurse goes to the control room and asks you to go through a few movements to make sure the wires are all properly connected. I fell asleep before she got back to the control room. The new sleep study showed that I stopped breathing 39 times/hour. So I definitely still have sleep apnea, and still need the sleep machine.
And in about an hour, the technician (respiratory therapist?) from the home medical supply place is coming by to deliver and setup a new CPAP machine for me. I’m anxious about getting this new machine. I turned up the pressure on the old one while waiting for this one, and it seems to be helping (but I also stopped getting up at 4:30 to go to the gym; now I sleep in until 5:00 every day, and go to the gym after work).
But I have to admit this new machine will mess with my routine. When I travel, I have the perfect bag to carry the old one in. Just the right size, with all the right pockets in all the right places. The new machines are half the size of the old one. That should be a plus, right? Smaller, lighter, easier for travelling. Except now my nifty, perfect travel bag will be oversized, and what if I can’t find another perfect bag?