REDDING, Calif. - The consequences of poor sleep quality can impair your quality of life, even cause death.
Sleep is something we all need and it's essential for our well-being. However, millions of Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder and many go untreated. In Shasta County, one sleep doctor is treating the problem, one patient at a time.
Snoring is a common sound associated with sleeping, but some professionals say it may be a symptom of a bigger problem.
"I had been feeling worn down," said sleep patient Andrea Charroin of Redding.
Forty-seven-year-old Charroin thought she was too young to be diagnosed with a sleep disorder. She doesn't remember the last time she had a good night's sleep, so her physician recommended she see a sleep medicine specialist.
"My husband had told him that my snoring has gotten to the point where it's affecting his sleep and that it was concerning him because I would stop breathing at night," said Charroin.
These are the classic symptoms for sleep apnea, a type of sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing lasting ten seconds or longer, depriving the brain and body of oxygen.
"Recognizing this is life saving," said Everett Trevor, MD.
Dr. Trevor has been studying sleep medicine for more than 30 years. He treats around 1,500 patients a year at his Resta Sleep Disorders Center in Redding.
"I look at sleep as the third part of that chair, that we need equally to have good sleep in order to have a full life," said Trevor.
During Charroin's sleep study, she averaged 21 apneas an hour and her oxygen level dropped dangerously low from 95 percent to 69 percent. When people experience these events they don't get the full benefit of a restful night.
"People need sleep for the entire body. Every cell in your body has a circadian clock," said Trevor.
"One of the big things is we find they are tried, fatigued and sleepy, and this is out of character for the way these people are and something that interferes greatly with their ability to perform," said Trevor.
Sleep apnea can also have serious consequences, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure and even death.
"There can be as much as 20 years difference in life expectancy between those that are treated and untreated who have sleep apnea," said Trevor.
Dr. Trevor has recommended Charroin's treatment be a technique called CPAP, also known as continuous positive airway pressure therapy. This helps a patient maintain a steady and healthy breathing level throughout the night.
"You ask these people later they would not give you their mask, you can't take their mask from them because they feel it is such an important part of their life to support this breathing at night," said Trevor.
For Charroin, she is looking forward to finally getting the rest she needs.
"Hopefully a new beginning of my life," said Charroin.
Dr. Trevor said anyone can suffer from sleep apnea. Some risk factors for sleep apnea include obesity, large neck sizes 17 inches in men and 16 inches in women or smoking. Symptoms like snoring or feeling fatigued during the day are the most common consequences. If you are interested in taking a sleep study, or finding out more about sleep disorders, you can contact Resta Sleep Disorders Center in Redding at (530) 242-6821.