Seeking a good night's sleep: Mark and Meredith's story
Meredith Johanson spent many sleepless nights poking and jabbing her snoring husband, Mark Johanson.
"He was an unbelievable snorer, and I could tell he stopped breathing at times. He'd startle and gasp for air," she recalls. "He didn't sleep well, and I couldn't either."
Mark's restless nights and resulting exhaustion were tough for him and the whole family. It was hard for him to drive at night or for long distances because he'd become dangerously sleepy. If he sat down after dinner to read or watch television, he often fell asleep in the chair and missed part of the evening.
Mark knew that his snoring and sleepiness were a problem. But he didn't know that he had obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous condition where people stop breathing for up to a minute at a time. That's what he learned at the Sleep Center of Buffalo Hospital, where he had a sleep study.
Awake and alert, Mark Johanson works in his wood shop.
Photo credit: Meredith Johanson
Sleep apnea facts
- Untreated sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, memory problems, weight gain, impotence, depression and headaches.
- Sleep-deprived people are also more vulnerable to accidents.
Although he says it changed his life, Mark's sleep study was typical.
- After explaining the test, the technician applied electrodes to his skin, which were hooked up to devices that measure eye movement, muscle movement, brain waves and oxygen levels.
- After several hours of monitored sleep, measurements indicated that Mark had sleep apnea.
- The sleep technician then started treatment with a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine. CPAP machines deliver pressurized air to the nose, ensuring regular breathing throughout the night.
- In the morning, Mark received a CPAP machine to take home.
Using the CPAP machine
It took Mark awhile to get comfortable with his continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine. He credits the Sleep Center staff for giving him tips and working with him to use the machine successfully. They offer several types of masks and found one that works well for him.
"I didn't really like wearing the mask, but I made up my mind to do this to improve my quality of life and my family's," he says.
Better sleep for everyone
Today, Mark's CPAP machine helps him sleep much better. He says, "I feel refreshed and function better at work and with my family."
Within a month of using the CPAP machine, Meredith noticed that Mark looked younger and less tired.
"Everyone's a winner," Mark says. "I feel better, and my whole family sleeps better."