Sleep Hygiene and Sleep Health

Ahhh yes, health. For long time readers of this blog, you’ll know that I’ve done some weight loss a few times in the past – all in the name of health. I’ll have an update on that in a future blog post. Today though, I’ll be going through some data I’ve collected on my sleeping patterns.

Lack of employment is arguably one of best life changes one can enjoy, if one can afford it. I’ve been saving for time off for a couple of decades now so I am ready. What do you know, a redundancy was served at the end of June. I now have time to improve my health. While my sleep hygiene has traditionally been alright, lately it has not been nearly as good as it once was.

One of the most annoying things I’ve been encountering intermittently over the past eight years is night sweats. When looking at the potential causes there were a few I could rule out pretty quickly. A few stuck there though, anxiety/stress, medications, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

Anxiety and stress are always there. As far back as 2015, I’d blamed medications such as pregabalin, diazepam, or whatever anti-depressant I was on. Most anti-depressants (SSRI and SNRI) cause sleep bruxism for me and is why I end up ceasing treatment. But what if we were wrong and there was another underlying cause? Could sleep apnea be the root of some of my issues?

Certainly, being unable to breathe is rather stressful in itself. Bolstering stress hormones – while you are sleeping. I believed it was worth further investigation so I slapped my MacBook Pro on a fold-out table next to my bed and recorded a few days of sleep.

Three hour sample. Recorded with the built-in microphone on my MacBook Pro.

Six hour sample. Recorded with a Blue Yeti Nano microphone.

Another six hour sample. Recorded with a Blue Yeti Nano microphone.

Alright, so we have some data. I’m using Final Cut Pro X to analyse the audio since it’s what I have on hand. The audio amplitude is greatly increased from baseline. This helps to see the peaks. What are the peaks? They are me waking up from being unable to breathe properly.

I live in Australia, where we have (mostly) free health care here. What should happen in a situation like this is I report poor sleep to my GP and get a sleep study done through a specialist (c/o a referral). However, it turns out our health care system is sick. Of the places I contacted with my referral, they reported an almost one-year wait for bulk-billed on a sleep study or a few months less if I wanted to pay the gap.

What the hell is wrong with our system? Those who need to use bulk-billed services should be prioritised. How is this not the case? I am disgusted that this is even an issue in a modern society.

The one thing we have working to our advantage in Australia is that sleep apnea can kind of be treated by yourself as the devices do not require a prescription – unlike in the US… Look, my background in biomedical sciences probably helps too. From simply recording my sleeping I can see that my breathing is borked. Let’s zoom in and look at these peaks a little closer on a smaller time scale.

The above two were captured on 3rd August and you can see that I have the potential to be a great 1-bit groovebox but that’s not what should be happening. Remember, the two are the lower quality samples owing to the MacBook Pro built-in microphone being ordinary. Let’s look at some higher quality data from the 12th and 13th August.

Yep, there’s nothing good happening there! The time scales are seven and nine minutes respectively. After looking around I can see that these machines aren’t cheap. An electric pump and an algorithm for $1000+. Computer says no, bank account says no. Especially as I am running on a trial and error basis here. Maybe there’s another way.

Well what do you know, I can trial a ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet for the cost of only a few big meals each week. Biggest issues are probably going to be mask type, mask fitting and exhaling against the machine. Thanks to some others going over what’s important to look for in a machine I can see that this device is probably alright. It’s not the best, but we’re looking for what might be suitable and what might help solve my sleep issues.

I could honestly research these for years, the end result being analysis paralysis with no device ever materialising. For now, I wait for the trial ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet CPAP hardware to arrive and hope I picked a suitable mask. Here’s to a good night sleep at some point in the future? Time will tell! 😴

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