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I might have had Sleep Apnea my entire life, but even when I started to wake up in a panic feeling as if I were suffocating to death, I didn't know it. I chalked it up to stress at work, and the feeling of trudging through each day without any energy to some form of depression. Wrong on both counts. How did I find out? During a casual conversation with a friend of mine, I mentioned it and he told me to go to a sleep center to get tested for Sleep Apnea, a condition he revealed to me he had, but which I had never heard of before.

Only now do I realize what an amazing service my friend did for me by opening my eyes to this common disorder. Today, I am using CPAP and feel so much more energized than I did before. I realize what a life-changing experience being treated for Sleep Apnea has been, and the power a single conversation about Sleep Apnea can have on a person's life. That one conversation with my friend changed my world forever. Given that estimates are that up to 30 million Americans have Sleep Apnea, and only 10% know it, I'd encourage each of you to do the same for someone in your life. Get the word out and raise awareness.

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Comment by sleepycarol on January 1, 2009 at 11:32pm
I had complained for years about fatigue and not sleeping well. NOT ONE doctor suggested a sleep study!! I had to ask my doctor to consider it and she agreed after we had talked about it. It was only at MY suggestion. I am so glad that I made the decision to ask about a sleep study.
Comment by Steven Y. Park, MD on January 1, 2009 at 10:34pm
You're fortunate that your friend led you in the right direction. But many people who describe waking up in a state of panic are mistakenly given an anxiety diagnosis by their doctor and given medications to cover up the symptoms without treating the original cause.
Comment by Jess on December 25, 2008 at 7:16pm
Mike,
I can remember having those suffocating feelings in my sleep clear back to when I was a young child. Even my sister tells me that she used to be fascinated by my irregular, while sleeping, breathing patterns when we were children. Unfortunately I did not seek treatment until I was 36 years old. But thank God I did. What a life changing experience. Now I just hope to spread the word wherever possible.

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