“Three years ago I went to see my allergist, and I explained to him that sometimes I would wake up at night in a panic and starved for air,” said Griffin, who believes he is the only one in his family who has suffered from the disorder.
“My wife, she’d punch me in the side at night, because there would be times that I would go two minutes without breathing,” he said.
Griffin says the allergist suggested he go to Fayetteville’s Sleep Center, located near the Cape Fear Valley Hospital, at 1213 Walter Reed Rd. Here he was assigned to the medical director of the Sleep Center, Dr. Sam Fleishman, who requested Griffin sleep at the center for observation.
“I spent two nights in the sleep center,” explained Griffin. “During one session there, I quit breathing like, 6 times in one night.”
Dr. Fleishman who, unlike most sleep disorder specialists, is able to combine his knowledge of sleep disorders, with his training in psychiatry, often treats a wide variety of disorders in a single week, among them, insomnia, restless leg syndrome and even sleep walking.
Fleishman points to a number of symptoms which may indicate a sleeping disorder. “If you are waking up gasping for air, if you’re getting drowsy behind the wheel while just driving around town, if you can’t stay awake watching TV or at a movie theatre,” said Fleishman. “If you are sleeping less than five hours a night and you are trying to sleep a lot more. Or if you snore loudly, that is certainly something you should at least have looked at.”
Fortunately, Griffin’s apnea was treatable. Dr. Fleishman advised Griffin to start a healthier diet, and provided him with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. Worn like a mask, the CPAP helps clear the user’s airways.
“I use it religiously every night,” said Griffin of the treatment. “I had a hard time adjusting to the CPAP machine because it goes up your nose, but now, in about 3 minutes after I put it on, I am asleep. It keeps the airways open, I don’t struggle for breath.”
In fact, Griffin says his wife has noticed a difference, not only in the way he sleeps, but in how healthy he looks when awake. “My wife told me after the first night I used the CPAP machine, ‘you know, your complexion is pink?’” added Griffin. “My body was getting enough oxygen, and I got enough rest, so I finally got to R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement, a stage of normal sleep) that night. This was the first time in years I had been able to do that.”
To find out more information about the Sleep Center and what disorders they treat, call 609-6389.