It's a nightmare. The tossing, the turning, the loud, frustrating snores that may keep you from getting those much needed Z's.
"I'd get up during the night or have trouble," said Sam Musso, who could only sleep 4 hours a night. "I haven't had a full night's sleep in a long time."
Musso is one of 40-million Americans diagnosed with a sleeping disorder.
"The bad thing about it is I cannot take a nap," said Musso. "You know like some people go home and they're tired, they can take naps. Well I've tried even getting in a dark closet and closing the door."
Musso thought sinuses were to blame, but after undergoing a sleep study at ETMC's Sleep Disorders Center, he found out the culprit was sleep apnea.
"Apnea is when you're not breathing and I had gone 43 seconds without breathing," said Musso.
Dr. Raymond Perkins said apnea can cause a number of health risks, starting with high blood pressure.
"Half of people with high blood pressure will have sleep apnea, it also increases risks of having a stroke, it increases the likelihood of heart disease and heart failure, heart attacks, even some blocking of arteries," said Dr. Perkins, Medical Director at ETMC's Sleep Disorders Center in Tyler. "It's associated with things like weight gain, diabetes. So is it dangerous? it's horrible."
You might be hearing the result of sleep apnea and not even know it.
"If people on the other side of the house complain because they can hear the snoring that's probably an indication but when it stops that's an even worse indication," said Dr. Perkins. "So it can be very loud but then when it stops, that stopping of the breathing or stopping of the snoring, is the apnea."
Any of these symptoms can be detected and treated by undergoing a sleep study.
"There's a camera up there that they can take infrared pictures of you; all your movements and watch you through the night and you can talk to them," said Musso.
"What it has is a modified EEG that tells us about brain waves," said Dr. Perkins. "Believe me, we're better than Santa Claus. We know not only when you're asleep and not. We know what phase of sleep you're in, the quality of the sleep."
Dr. Perkins said most patients need to undergo only one study. But if a disorder like apnea is found, there is more extensive therapy available.
"We do offer pressure therapy, which is we place a mask that goes over the nose and the mouth, that keeps the airway from collapsing so that they don't have difficulty with sleep apnea."
It's already working for Sam Musso, and since sleep is so essential to living a fuller, healthier life, he said he'd recommend it to anyone tired of living this nightmare.
Doctors said Medicare covers these sleep studies for anyone over the age of 65. Doctors also said more insurance companies are covering some costs for the studies, as sleep is so vital to your health. Check with your insurance provider to see.
Now, KLTV and ETMC have partnered to create a "Snore-A-Thon" contest here on kltv.com. The idea is to see just how loud you or your spouse may snore.
To enter, send us a video and you could win one of 3 sleep studies from ETMC and KLTV. To enter, scroll down to the "ETMC Snore-A-Thon" and follow the steps to submit your video. The first 200 people who enter will also win a free sleep mask from KLTV and ETMC.