Describing Sleep Apnea to a Non-Sufferer

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 9.52.02 AMI am not sure if people can relate to sleep apnea if they have never had it. I think in their minds they associate their worst night of sleep, maybe when the baby kept them up through the night, with this condition. However, that doesn’t even come close to reality, for those of us who have had it severely. Before you get upset, let me explain. Severe sleep apnea is like drowning hundreds of times a night. Your body is fighting to stay alive because it thinks you are being tortured, literally. Your oxygen supply is being cutoff every 10 seconds. I think waterboarding is the most accurate description of severe sleep apnea. When you wake up, you cannot think straight, your heart rate is severely elevated, your blood pressure can be 160/120 and above. Your oxygenation has gone down to severely low levels and is trying to recover. I think the hardest part is knowing that even if you try and take a nap, there is no respite. This horrible feeling will happen day after day after day. It is a condition that can cause depression and cause people to lose hope. At least with a baby, they eventually grow up, and when you do get naps, it rejuvenates you.

If you agree that severe sleep apnea is like waterboarding, Time Magazine wrote an article on waterboarding and in it, they say, “psychologically this can result in significant long-term post traumatic stress, and produce anxiety and depression” (,8599,1892721,00.html).


image: Sander van der Wel from Netherlands, Wikimedia Commons

One thought on “Describing Sleep Apnea to a Non-Sufferer

  1. Bingo! I was feeling the exact same way, and looked up “apnea water boarding” on google, and found your blog. I think you’ve hit it on the head.



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