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Introduction - I have insomnia and sleep apnea

This area is for discussion of Sleep Studies used in the evaluation of Sleep Apnea.

Introduction - I have insomnia and sleep apnea

Postby Dragster » Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:56 pm

Hi, I just registered and would like to hear from others that may be in the same situation. I have had insomnia for almost two years. Most doctors seem to just treat the symptoms instead of trying to find out what the real problem is. My doctor told me to take 100mg of Trazadone each night before bedtime. It seems to be effective and I usually sleep for 8 hours. Recently, I heard about sleep studies and thought that it might help find the reason for my insomnia. My doctor agreed for me to have a sleep study at the local hospital. I did not sleep very well during my first sleep study in early September. I was scheduled for a second sleep study in early October and they connected me to a CPAP machine. I was told that I had sleep apnea. They said that I slept very well during the second sleep study. I was told to take my sleeping pills during each of the sleep studies. I now have a CPAP machine with humidifier at home. It is preset at a pressure of 8. Tonight will be my 5th night. I also take medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol. I have been taking the medication for serveral years with no side effects. The medication slows my normal heart rate to around 50. I am retired and will be 59 in December. I am slightly overweight (195) based on my height of 5'9''. I exercise daily on the treadmill. I am wondering if untreated sleep apnea may have caused my insomnia. I read on the internet that sleeping pills can cause sleep apnea. It is all very confusing and depressing. I also got tinitus (ringing in the ears) about the same time that I got insomnia. I have a doctor's appointment schduled for the 18th. I like to be active and enjoy going to amusement parks and water parks. Othen than the sleep problems, I feel good.
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Postby SnoozeHunter » Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:38 am

Hi Dragster.

I don't know if untreated sleep apnea causes insomnia. I also have insomnia and sleep apnea. My doctor prescribed 100mg of Trazadone initially but I was sleeping though my alarm so we cut it back to 50mg. I hadn't heard that sleep inducers cause apnea; I have apnea with or without the sleep meds. I thought I was sleeping better so I stopped taking the Trazadone, but now the doctor says I need to go back on it. I sleep an average of four hours a night, six on a good one. When I do fall asleep it is interrupted a lot by the apnea so it isn't good quality sleep.

I'm sorry I don't have anything helpful to tell you but I do empathize with you. Hope the CPAP helps you.

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Postby Vicki » Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:50 am

Hi Dragster,

There is only one instance where sleep apnea would cause innsomia. I want to preface it with you would still be very fatigued! Before I was diagnosed, I would not want to go to bed. I'd stay up, not in bed until I would pass out from fatigue, usually on the couch, sometimes on the floor as I played with my pets. The first couple of nights of using my CPAP I felt that it was safe to go to sleep. I thought that was really strange until my sleep tech. told me they saw it a lot. He explained it by saying to me that although I wasn't consciously aware of the terrible struggle my body underwent trying to avoid suffocation, my subconscious knew and was trying to keep me awake so I would not be suffocated. Other than that, I've never heard of a connection.

Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.
Marilyn Vos Savant

That which does not kill you makes you stronger-Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich must of had apnea.
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Machine: DeVilbiss IntelliPAP
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Humidifier: Rarely as needed
Year Diagnosed: 1999

Postby realmike » Fri Dec 16, 2005 6:03 pm

Interesting theory and one I am thinking about as well. Is my inability to fall asleep a safety mechanism set up in my subconscious mind because it doesn't want me to choke. And if so will it resolve as I progress with cpap for a while? See my falling asleep post from 12/15 I guess time will tell but it would be nice to hear from anyone who has had their insomnia lessened with cpap usage. Mike
Thanks to all, Michael
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Postby Sunfish » Fri Dec 16, 2005 6:27 pm

i'm new in the apnea world, just fitted for mask today after appt with sleep doc, etc....so i'm definitely not an expert. but in my discussions with 2 docs today (attending & resident) we think my insomnia is very likely a direct result of my apnea. that said, i have primarily sleep MAINTENANCE insomnia, not sleep onset insomnia, which is obviously different. i'm 26 and after never having a problem previously i started having problems staying asleep, aka i'd wake up multiple times throughout the night. based on my sleep study my arousals are more often than not directly related to respiratory events so the connection is pretty direct in my situation.
also, while i've not read that sleep meds cause apnea, i have read (and it makes a lot of sense) that they can make apneas worse as they relax the nervous system &/or muscle tone even more. the few sleep meds that are safe for me to try(b/c of other health problems) - variations of ambien & lunesta - either did nothing or made things worse for me.
good luck,
"I get up, I walk, I fall down. Meanwhile I keep dancing." HILLEL

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Postby momof3cats » Wed Jan 11, 2006 11:21 pm


My question to you is - what are you calling insomnia? Are you A., unable to fall asleep or B., keep waking up during the night?

If you are unable to fall asleep, there are products like Lunesta and Ambien (or heck even Valium) that can help you relax and fall asleep.

If you are waking a lot during the night, is it because you have to use the restroom? If so, you may have an overactive bladder. I had this problem. Once I got on Ditropan I was able to sleep better because I didn't have to get up and go pee every 2 hours. What a relief!

If you are waking a lot during the night and don't know why, but you are able to get back to sleep no problem, you may be having apneas. When you have an apnea and your airway closes off, your autonomic system, that's located in the back of your brain, will scream out to your airway, "Dragster! BREATHE!!" and you will wake up. Some people wake with a start, feeling as though they are suffocating. Most people don't even realize they're having apneas. They'll wake up "for some reason", go watch some TV, come back to bed, only to do the same thing again in 2 hours, etc.

Untreated sleep apnea won't cause insomnia, but it will keep you from getting a good night's sleep, which may make people think they have insomnia. Does that make sense? You are doing some things right - exercising, using your CPAP, taking your medication. CPAP therapy may even help lower your blood pressure. So don't stop using it.

Lots of people have problems sleeping during a sleep study. You're not at home in your own bed, you're not with your spouse/partner, your faithful dog isn't at the end of the bed, or snoring next to you like mine is, and you know someone is watching you and may walk in at any moment to wake you up for some reason. So don't worry about not being able to sleep during your sleep study. Some clinics offer titration devices you can take home with you. They have data cards in them that record your information and all you have to do is take it back to the sleep clinic and they can interpret the data.

A pressure of 8 isn't very high, so it may be that your pressure is too low and it's not keep your airway open, therefore you're having apneas and they're waking you up. I'm not sure where the tinnitus came from. Some new CPAP patients find that their ears pop, which may mean your sinuses and ears aren't draining as they should, which can be resolved with a visit to your ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor). If you have severe nasal allergies, don't use a nasal mask - it won't do you any good because if your nose is stuffed up, there's nowhere for the air to go. It is important that you have a humidifier, it will keep you from drying out and makes treatment more comfortable.

Sleeping pills can cause sleep apnea because they relax your body just like the deeper stages of sleep and REM sleep do. When you're that relaxed, your body goes into paralysis and you can't move. This can cause your airway to close and then you have an apnea.

Well now that I've rambled on forever, I hope some of this information will be useful to you. Take a piece of paper and write down all your questions for your doctor. Write down the doctor's responses, too, so that you know you are both on the same page. Good luck!
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