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Avatar universal

Mild sleep apnea, but never actually stop breathing?

Hi,

I'm a 21 year old female and I've always had problems with being excessively tired since I was about 5 years old. I can sleep for 10+ hours, not feel rested upon waking, and still need a nap an hour or two later. I went to see a sleep specialist who suggested I may have sleep apnea because I have a small throat and large tonsils, but he also suggested I may have delayed sleep phase syndrome because it takes me about an hour and sometimes up to 2 hours to fall asleep at night whereas I can easily fall asleep during the day. My sleep problem also got a lot worse once I changed time zones when I moved to Boston from Texas so DSPS is probable.

I had a sleep study done and my doctor said that I have mild sleep apnea, but that I never actually stopped breathing during the study. He said about 1.5 times an hour my breathing would become shallow enough to disturb my sleep for a few seconds and also that I woke up about 15 times per hour very briefly. However, I think waking up about 15 times is partially due to being uncomfortable with all the wires running up my neck because the wires highly agitated me (I can't even tolerate my hair lying against my neck while I sleep). I slept terribly during the study and it was not how I normally sleep at all. I only slept about 3-4 hours during the study. He said I slept on my back and side equally.

This is all the information he gave me about my results over the phone so I don't actually have a report to look at. However, I'm just confused as to why he diagnosed me with mild sleep apnea since I didn't actually stop breathing and he said everything was pretty much within normal limits even the shallow breathing. Does this seem like a reasonable diagnosis given the minimal information I have? I'm going to schedule an appointment to go over my results more in depth, are there things I should ask him or look for specifically in my results?

Thank you for any help!
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Avatar universal
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Your situation is very common, where the mild degree of your obstructive sleep apnea doesn't explain the severity of your fatigue. You most likely have upper airway resistance syndrome, where multiple obstructions and arousals prevents your from getting deep, efficient sleep. Is you nose stuffy? Do you normally sleep on your side or stomach? If you have a chance, take a look at my book, Sleep, Interrupted, which explains your condition in much greater detail.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Where did you get your sleep study at?  I had 3 sleep studies - the first 2 showed mild sleep apnea with an ahi of 2.  Out of desperation, I contacted a well known sleep doc who recommended I get my study done at the world famous Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic.  I did - the study showed an AHI of 14, mostly hypopneas and many, many flow limitations which are often difficult to detect unless the lab has the most advanced equipment.  The flow limitations disrupt my sleep just as much as the hypopneas.  Ask how many arousals you had, even non-respiratory related - this may be indicative of undetected UARS/hypopneas/flow limitations etc.  
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