Seeking Solutions to Peaceful Sleep Sometimes Leads to Special Surgery

11.01.2011

I really had to pace myself at work... and nighttime was the longest part of my day.

-Christian Roth, patient, Stanford Sleep Medicine Center

From the time Christian Roth was an infant, he had trouble sleeping. By the time he'd reached his 30s, his sleep problems had begun to affect his health and almost every other aspect in his life.

The first night he was home after the surgery, I almost couldn't sleep because it was so quiet in the room.

-Liza Roth, wife of Christian

Before Roth's sleep surgery, he created a complicated strategy for sleeping and for managing his energy so he'd have enough at the end of the day to do things with his daughter, Emily.

UNCOVERING SLEEP'S MYSTERIES

What is sleep apnea?

  • Snoring is usually the first sign of sleep apnea. The noise of a snore is made most often when breathing in, which vibrates the soft palate and the uvula, the small piece of tissue that hangs down at the back of the throat. When an obstruction completely blocks airflow, which can last for several seconds, the sleeper will struggle to take a breath, snorting and gasping.
  • If the snoring is loud enough to wake another person, then sleep apnea is likely to be present as well. The irregular breathing prevents a restorative night of sleep, which causes sleep deprivation and may lead to daytime sleepiness, difficulty with memory, concentration and attention. Sleep apnea is now considered the leading treatable cause of hypertension. It is also a risk factor or causative agent of stroke and heart disease.

Are you at risk for sleep apnea?

Your risk for sleep apnea is higher if you are male, more than 50 years old and have a body mass index greater than 28.

Should you see a doctor?

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale can help you gauge your sleep health. If you score 10 or more on this test, then your sleep health definitely needs attention. You may want to consider talking with your doctor or a sleep specialist.
0 = would never doze or sleep
1 = slight chance of dozing or sleeping
2 = moderate chance of dozing or sleeping
3 = high chance of dozing or sleeping

___ Watching TV
___ Sitting inactive in a public place
___ Being a passenter in a motor vehicle for an hour or more
___ Lying down in the afternoon
___ Sitting and talking to someone
___ Sitting quietly after lunch (no alcohol)
___ Stopped for a few minutes in traffic
___ while driving

It's amazing how many things are tied to it--so many symptoms just all went away after my surgery.

-Christian Roth, patient, Stanford Sleep Medicine Center
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