As specialists in helping to eliminate sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnoea we regularly hear from people about their problems and experiences and it’s rewarding to know that we have improved sleep and breathing issues for so many people over the years. We are privileged to hear personal stories that remind me of the importance of helping people get good sleep and the role sleep plays in the quality of their lives and the lives of those we love. Our sleep not only affects both our short and long term health but also our perspective on life, our happiness and our ability to enjoy each and every day. We are often given a glimpse of the impact that improved sleep has had on their lives by eliminating or reducing serious snoring problems so I would like to share some of these stories with you.
The first story comes from a married couple who travel a great deal in the summer providing specialist back up as chefs to hotels in the busy summer period when there are more visitors, and of course the usual flurry of weddings. Oral appliance therapy provided the ideal solution for their different, yet related, health and sleep concerns. He has successfully used an MAD for snoring and moderate obstructive sleep apnoea, and her upper airway resistance syndrome and morning headaches have been resolved by using a simpler mouthpiece. Last summer they visited 10 different hotels only to discover that they and only one other couple were able to sleep in the same room together! They hadn’t realised how widespread the effect of snoring and OSA was on couples and their intimacy, and they were grateful to have taken the simple steps to get the problem solved.
Secondly, a father and his daughter attend a family reunion together each year. Last summer his snoring had become so unbearable in the night that her only reprieve was on the other side of the hotel’s bathroom door. He awoke to find his young daughter curled up in the bottom of the cold bathtub asleep. While impressed with her resourcefulness, it broke his heart to think that she was so desperate to escape his snoring she would abandon the comfort of her bed to get any semblance of sleep that night. But it was not in vain because it finally prompted him to find a solution. It was a timely event because he realised he was suffering from mild sleep apnoea. A year later, after sleeping by using an oral appliance, he is healthier and far more energetic. During this year’s annual reunion trip, his daughter was amazed by her father’s quiet and peaceful sleep throughout the night. She got to sleep in the comfort of a real bed and enjoy her time with her father this year … and we hope this will be for many years to come!
The final story comes from a typical loving couple who simply could not sleep together anymore. Over the years, his loud snoring had driven them apart and into separate bedrooms. Understandably her partner’s snoring led to her irritability and lack of energy, which prevented them from enjoying their life together. He went ahead and acquired a custom fitted mouthpiece without telling his wife, and when it arrived, she was furious at first that he had spent the money. It seemed he was in the doghouse, but he was almost immediately redeemed after just one night. His snoring stopped and his wife had the first quiet restful sleep in years. He had given her the best gift possible – a good night’s sleep!
Stories like these are not uncommon – we hear them all the time. Yet 80 per cent of people who struggle and suffer from unresolved pain and sleep problems remain undiagnosed. That’s why patients like this need to share their stories to help other people live healthier and happier lives.
By John Redfern