The Voices of Sleep Apnea

Getting a good night’s rest is essential for good health, but people with sleep apnea aren’t able to succumb to slumber. Obstructive sleep apnea causes episodes of stopped breathing during sleep, and the result is a fragmented, restless sleep that leaves sufferers exhausted and drowsy during the day.

Sleep apnea is common, affecting more than 12 million Americans. But most people with the problem haven’t been diagnosed. The problem is more common in men, and associated with being overweight and over 40. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked with high blood pressure, memory problems, weight gain, headaches and car crashes.

To learn more about life with sleep apnea, listen to the latest installment of the Patient Voices series from New York Times Web producer Karen Barrow.

You’ll meet Ursula Forhan, 54, of Chicago, who says constant tiredness is the worst part of having sleep apnea.

“It’s a grinding kind of fatigue,” she says. “It’s a fatigue that makes you ration what you’ll do….You don’t have enough energy for everything.”

And you’ll meet Eric Ramme, 54, of Manhattan, who thought his sleep problems were linked to his pillow, mattress or even the traffic outside his window. After his diagnosis, he ultimately underwent surgery to correct the problem.

“When you have a good night’s sleep you attack your day,” he says. “You’re happier. So many things are related directly to the quality of sleep you have.”

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