Honey, Do You Know You Stop Breathing In Your Sleep?

"Honey, Do You Know You Stop Breathing In Your Sleep?"

Yep, those were the words that I spoke to my husband one morning after a very restless night of sleep. His reply, “What are you talking about?” I proceeded to explain to him that while he was sleeping, he had stopped breathing for almost a minute (which, to me seemed an unbearable eternity) before he gave a loud snort and started breathing again.

Here’s the scenario as it played out:

My husband was asleep, on his back as usual, and began snoring. Low at first and then gradually becoming louder and louder. I had no idea how he did not wake himself up with all that noise – unbelievable! After one particularly one loud snore “in” I noticed that after a moment or two, I had not heard a breath come “out”. I kept listening, waiting for one, but it wasn’t there. I began to move closer to him and it looked like he wasn’t breathing – just lying there with his mouth partially open, chest not moving. I really started to become scared, lifted my hand to gently shake him, when all of a sudden, out came this loud snort and he began breathing normally once again. I watched him for a few more minutes before I finally settled down and fell asleep.

Sleep apnea is sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

Some common signs and/or symptoms of sleep apnea may include:

· Sleepiness during the day

· Loud snoring

· Periods of breathing cessation during sleep

· Morning headache

· Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)

· Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation

We argued back and forth, really getting nowhere. He didn’t really believe me. This continued to happen over the next few months, not very often but often enough to bother me. I insisted that he mention this to his doctor the next time he went for his physical.

Sleep apnea cannot be diagnosed during a routine office visit or detected by a blood test.

Are You at Risk:

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even women and children. Risk factors include:

  • Male gender (yes, my husband is a male)
  • Being overweight (my husband is 5’10 and 135lbs. soaking wet)
  • Being over the age of forty (he was 32 when he was diagnosed)
  • Having larger tonsils (no large tonsils here)
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea (his brother has it too)

When he went for his physical three months later, he actually remembered to mention it to his doctor. His doctor was quite surprised and decided to send him for a sleep apnea test. My husband really wasn’t really considered a candidate for sleep apnea but better safe than sorry. He spent one night at a sleep disorder center, hooked up accordingly to the necessary testing equipment, and then came home early the next morning.

Tests to detect sleep apnea may include:

· Nocturnal polysomnography. During this test, you are hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.

· Oximetry. This method involves using a small machine that monitors and records the oxygen level in your blood while you're asleep. A simple sleeve fits painlessly over one of your fingers to collect the information overnight.

· Portable cardiorespiratory testing. Under certain circumstances, your doctor may provide you with simplified tests to be used at home to diagnose sleep apnea. These tests usually involve oximetry, measurement of airflow and measurement of breathing patterns.

Can you believe his surprise, when the results came back that he in fact did have sleep apnea. There were a few different options for treatment:

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

This is a treatment in where a mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is hooked up to a machine that carries a constant flow of air into the nostrils. The positive pressure from air flowing into the nostrils helps keep the airways open so that breathing is not impaired.

Sleep Apnea and Dental Devices

Dental devices can be made that help keep the airway open during sleep.

Surgery for Sleep Apnea

In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct sleep apnea.

His first choice was the dental device. It didn’t last long. It was very uncomfortable for him to wear at night and his jaw hurt each morning when he got up. He definitely didn’t want surgery so that left the CPAP.

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health problems including:

· Hypertension

· Stroke

· Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks

Other than having to find the mask that was most comfortable to wear, the CPAP is great. He no longer snores (as long as he’s using the CPAP), sleeps better, and most importantly, doesn’t stop breathing during the night – which in turn allows me to get a more restful night of sleep myself.

So women (and men too), if your spouse snores loud enough to wake the dead and shows any other symptoms of possible sleep apnea, have them mention it to their doctor during their next visit. You both might end up getting a better night's sleep.

For more detailed information on sleep apnea, check out the following websites:

American Sleep Apnea Association

Mayo Clinic - Sleep Apnea


Then Again, He/She Might Just Snore Loud!

Comments 22 comments

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

hi pm, sleep apnea, oh similar to crib death,and for childsren too, scary isn't it, thanks for the information here and well researched topic, loud snoring, oh, thanks really, Maita

pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York Author

Thanks Maita. Actually your hub about SIDS was the inspiration for this one (my comment to you got me thinking).

It is very scary, especially when you're lying next to someone and notice they've stopped breathing. Almost gave ME a heart attack! Thank goodness he's got the machine. I'd like him to stick around a while longer :-)

As always - your comments are much appreciated! - Pattie

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

I was doing research about the CPAP - so I've read that people with sleep apnea can stop breathing up to 400 times per night - real scary stuff. Interesting that your husband did not fit the profile except that he is a male.

What a frightening experience - thanks for sharing important information and personalizing it!

pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York Author

Thanks Bk. I know - isn't it amazing! I think my husband was "clocked" at somewhere between 30 to 50 times a night when he was tested. I wonder how long you actually breath for if you stop 400 times. That's really scary. I'd be awake all night just watching him! Glad you stopped by :-)

fishtiger58 profile image

fishtiger58 6 years ago from Momence, Illinois

My husband snores when he is very very tired. He works nights so I don't sleep with him much. He does the same thing you husband does and I lay there counting how long before he breathes again. It makes me crazy. I keep thinking ok breathe. I usually wiggle my body and make the bed move then he breathes. But I can't do that all night. And getting him to go to the doctor's is worse than pulling teeth. Thanks for the great hub.

pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York Author

I know what you mean. The nights he falls asleep without his mask are the nights I do those very same things :-) I now have a 10 second limit and then I'll give him a little shake to get him breathing again. I end up going into another room just to get at least a couple hours of sleep and just keep my fingers crossed!

Thanks for the visit fishtiger58 - Appreciated as always.

K Partin profile image

K Partin 6 years ago from Garden City, Michigan

Hey pdd, great hub, I should of wrote about this. My wife has sleep apnea. She did the sleep study and is now on the CPAP machine. Really helps now. This is a very serious problem with allot of people and they don't even know it. Thanks for getting it out there. Kerry

pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York Author

Thanks K :-) It is a serious problem and am just grateful that my husband didn't think it was all in my head when I mentioned it to him. You should still write a hub on it - from your perspective and experience with your wife's apnea. Any and all info out there is good. I'm sure there are many people out there who are unaware they even have it. Glad you stopped by. Catch you later ;-)

AnythingArtzy profile image

AnythingArtzy 6 years ago from OHIO

great hub. I have sleep apnea and the night I was tested I had stopped brathing 74 times in 4 hours. Some for a minute and a half each. More people need to see this.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Hi Patti, thanks for dropping by my hub always, I miss you, good you're back, Maita

dragonbear profile image

dragonbear 6 years ago from Essex UK

As a nurse working in occupational health, I see many problems arising from sleep apnoea - fatigue the following day is a particular issue. Especially in drivers, serious injury and fatalities are common.

Excellent hub!

pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York Author

Thank you AnythingArtzy & dragonbear. I'm really glad you both liked the hub. It's amazing how many people have sleep apnea and would never know it unless tested. The public needs to become more aware. Not enough attention is brought to that specific issue. Fatigue is definitely a problem as well. I can't possibly imagine how maning driving accidents are a result (directly or indirectly) of sleep apnea. I wonder if there has ever been a study done on that - hmm? Again, thank you both for your positive comments. Rock on!

Hey Maita! Thanks - missed HP too and am glad to be back. You know how it is - sometimes life just takes over :-) Happy to have my time (at least some of it) be my own again. You've been quite busy. How long HAVE I been gone - LOL. Time to play catch-up w/all the new hubs :-) Talk to you later. - Pattie

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

very informative and useful for us. It looks a serious problem. BUt you have great solution. Thanks

pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York Author

Thank you prasetio30. Please that you for the information useful. It is serious. Many people have not even heard of it let alone realize they could possibly have it. Rock on!

Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

My husband goes through periods like this. Thanks for sharing.

pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York Author

Thanks Sandy - happy to share! Maybe your husband should mention his symptoms the next time he goes for a doctors visit - better to be safe :-) Stay healthy & happy!

BrianS profile image

BrianS 6 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Very good hub on an often unknown problem. My brother in law has this condition and uses the face mask. It is worth getting this diagnosed as apart from the problems you listed, another side affect can be brain damage as a result of oxygen deprivation.

pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York Author

Thank you Brian :D

It is often unknown isn't it? Your comments are much appreciated and I'm happy that my hub can educated others on this condition. Rock on!

Alayne Fenasci profile image

Alayne Fenasci 5 years ago from Louisiana

I'm glad to see this article. Many people think it's a made-up disease for old fat men who don't take care of themselves. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Thank you for setting some of the facts straight.

My husband also does not fit the profile, not overweight, no tonsils, quite young... but that didn't stop him from ceasing to breathe 60 times per hour in his sleep study. When he was getting used to the bi-pap (same machine with a dual air pressure setting), he had a hard time wearing the mask all night. When he would pull it off, I could not sleep. I sat awake and nudged him when he ceased breathing for too long. Needless to say, when he got used to wearing the mask all night, he wasn't the only one who slept better.

I feel particularly strongly about this for another reason also. A friend from elementary school lost his life at 32 years old because of apnea; he had a cpap, but had fallen asleep without it that night. This is not common; his case was quite severe. But still, for those with the breathing machines, I urge you to use them consistently.

sunitibahl9 profile image

sunitibahl9 5 years ago from India

M mascari 5 years ago

What is a cpap

Vicki Roberts 23 months ago

I love these my husband hates them not for his nose. But SlumberNow help me breath better at night lost them so going to order more.

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