No Rest

Daniel R., Early College High School

Ever since I was little, I have had trouble sleeping. At first my parents thought that it was because I had a lot of energy. After all, little kids tend to have a lot of energy to burn. However, the primary reason why I couldn’t fall asleep was because I was afraid of the dark. As a child I was very afraid of things that I did not understand, and to be honest I still am. I would not be able to fall asleep until it was very late or if my dad slept besides me. I was very afraid of spiders, snakes, and scorpions. One night, after we came home from the zoo, I could not fall asleep. I began to see the snakes and spiders everywhere on my room. I would cry a lot and was in a constant state of fear. Even though my father was there, I could still see them. It wasn’t until about four in the morning that I could fall asleep. So as a result the probable cause of my sleep disorder was my phobia to crawling animals.

As I got older, the reasons were different. My bedtime was always at 9:30 p.m. However if I wasn’t at bed by that time, I could not fall asleep. The reason why I couldn’t fall asleep if I went to bed late was unknown. However, I believe that it had to do with the idea that I had that if I didn’t go to bed I would not fall asleep. As I went to high school, I could still not fall asleep. The reasons were related to stress. My sophomore year was the first year I went to a public school, it was very stressful adjusting to the system. In order to fall asleep, I began to take melatonin 3mg pills. I began to fall asleep and was able to get rest. I have learned from my experiences and have discussed this with my friends and teachers to see if there any that were like me. In fact, one teacher, Mrs. Baker, had a son who had sleep apnea. She told me that her son was unable to breathe while sleeping and had to take him to the hospital for a time. Afterwards, she brought him home with a CPAP, which is a machine that monitors the breathing and vital signs of the baby. I have talked to people in order to help them and have recommended things for them to do. For example, to face their fears on order to sleep and finding ways to relax and reduce stress. The study of sleep is imperative because without sleep, the body deteriorate.

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Chainsaw Dad

Emily W., Columbia College Chicago

For as long as I can remember, I thought my dad was some sort of monster—family man by day, chainsaw by night. It sounds like a new sitcom, doesn’t it? The brand new show My Dad’s a Chainsaw! Series premiere this Friday at 7! Unfortunately, this is more like my own reality TV show. Growing up, I could often hear his snoring from my bedroom or our downstairs living room. I loathed family trips with my dad that would require us to sleep in the same room as his disturbingly loud and unpredictable snorts for air led to a sleepless night for me. On these nights, there would be a period of silence—a much-appreciated hiatus to the snoring—before a sound so loud would erupt from his gaping mouth it would practically shake the room. The chainsaw-like snore would make me jump, upsetting any attempt I made to sleep. Fed up with my dad depriving me of rest during our family vacations, I practically petitioned he not come on vacations with my mother and I. My mom began sleeping in our guest bedroom, expressing her frustrations and concerns to me, my parents’ relationship suffering.

My dad was unaware of how excessive his snoring was. Sure, he never felt refreshed in the morning and sometimes would wake in the night for seemingly no reason, but it couldn’t have been because of snoring, right? My dad thought it was normal to feel tired upon waking and simply wrote off his symptoms as side effects of being a smoker. My mom suggested to him for years he see a doctor about the snoring. It was not until he learned that his brother used a sleep apnea machine did he decide to finally look into it. After seeing his doctor and experiencing his first sleep studies—one of which involved a brash, pushy nurse named Olga—the results were in: severe sleep apnea. My mom was more concerned than he was. She was terrified at the idea of him having a stroke, a serious symptom of sleep apnea if left untreated.

“It’s not a problem anymore, but the machine was the hardest part to get used to,” my dad tells me, though I am sure it is more pleasant than having to deal with Olga again. “You have to make sure it’s plugged in, fill it with water, put on the mask, and turn the machine on.” A sleep apnea machine, or CPAP machine, continuously increases the air pressure in the user’s throat, allowing them to breathe easier. To keep users from getting a dry mouth during the night, the machine regulates humidity, which is why it is important for users to fill it with water. The machine has changed the way he approaches sleep, saying, “You can’t just fall asleep while watching TV; you have to decide when you’re going to sleep and prepare.” To some this may sound negative, the machine requiring preparation and for users to change their lax sleeping habits. With the increase of technology use in recent years, it has become common knowledge that “screen time” before bed—meaning TV, laptop, and phone use—affects one’s ability to both fall asleep and experience a good rest. By having to take that extra care of turning off the TV and making a conscious decision to sleep, using a sleep apnea machine is actually enforcing positive sleeping habits. Cutting before bed screen time and having a more structured sleep schedule are important steps to a healthier lifestyle.

I am so grateful that my father finally uses a sleep apnea machine. It means that both he and those around him are able to get a restful sleep. It does not sound like someone is trying to cut a tree down using a broken chainsaw down the hall at night anymore. Replacing it is the sleep apnea machine’s surprisingly quiet, peaceful hum. I am no longer bitter about vacation sleeping arrangements and actually look forward to spending time with my dad again. Now if only they had a machine for his sleeping walking…

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Sleep Disorders effect College Kids

Hayley McG.,  Lansingburgh High School

Sleeping disorders is affecting more and more people every year. College kids are a large part of the population that is being effected by sleeping disorder. There are many types of sleeping disorders but there are a few common types that a person is likely to develop. The first disorder is insomnia which is when a person has problems falling and staying asleep. Another is Obstructive sleep apnea which is intermittent airflow backstage during sleep. The final most common sleep disorder is sleep walking which is when a person will get up and walk around while sleeping. Sleep walking can be very dangerous because a person isn’t in their right state of mind and can possibly hurt themselves or others. Most college kids receive around 6 hours of sleep when 6-10 hours is recommended for young adults and adults. There are many negative effects of not being able to sleep well. A few consequences that affect people with minimum sleep are more illness, such as colds and flu; feeling stressed out, increased weight gain, lower academic performance and increased the chances of developing depression and anxiety. Another unfortunate effect of sleeping disorders is the chances of automobile accidents will increase greatly because some people will drive even though their full attention isn’t with them. Many students’ grades will suffer severely due to lack of sleep. Many students will be late to class or not even show up. Other students will hand in their assignments late or turn them in but not with 100% effort.  Students test scores may also plummet due to the fact of memory loss. When a person is lacking sleep, memorizing things becomes a much more difficult task. There are many steps to take to establish a good sleeping routine. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool, sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime will help you fall asleep better. Exercising is also a great method to help you fall asleep. Working out will make you tired, healthy, and improve your daily life! One should also avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed. If a person feels very sleep deprived, they should visit a doctor soon to see if maybe they have a sleeping disorder. There are many signs that a person has developed a sleeping disorder. Some of the warning signs to look about for include, having trouble getting to sleep or wake up frequently during the night for a period of several weeks. Having nightmares or night terrors that interrupt your sleep can be a big sign of sleeping disorders. Having been told by someone that you stop breathing during sleep, especially if you have morning headaches or fall asleep easily during the day is a sign that a person would need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Sleeping disorders are common but there are many things a person can do to try and prevent them from affecting their lifestyle.

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CPAP gives Mother a better outlook on Future

WADE C., CEDAR CREEK HIGH SCHOOL

Have you ever had that one special person in your house that you love dearly, but when it comes time to go to sleep you almost want to push their bed outside? This is how I live; a life of misery because of a common problem…snoring. My mother snores so loud that it rattles the boards on the second floor. So, after a doctor’s appointment and several household complaints, she was placed on a CPAP machine. I really can’t tell you how excited I was to finally have a cure for a 17 year problem.

I actually thought this was going to be a great invention and I would finally get a well-rested night of sleep. Boy was I wrong! I must say the snoring MAY have stopped; I am not sure because I couldn’t hear it over the CPAP machine! The machine is so loud that I still get little rest and am trying to figure out how to push the bed and machine outside. I would like to ask the doctors what they were thinking when they diagnosed her and placed her on the machine. Really doc, you did spend a night with her and actually heard how loud she snores? But doc, have you spent a night with the CPAP machine? I cannot be the only person that thinks this is so loud that I want to rid myself of the bed, CPAP machine, doctor, and now my mother!

Our family often wondered why my mother’s mood and temper were often off balance. She was so disappointed because of weight gain and sought several doctors for advice. It wasn’t until our family doctor decided to try sleep therapy and place her on a CPAP machine that things started to change. Sleep therapy devices are used by several people. Much of the time they are convenient and cost effective. All medical information on the CPAP is so accurate that my mother wakes well rested and ready to start a new day. I now enjoy a huge breakfast cooked by my well-rested and wide eyed mother. Now, I need to find out how to medicate myself for lack of sleep. So I ask, doc would you like to spend a night with me and find a bigger and better machine?

With all the laughs and jokes aside; the machine has been proven to assist those that have an obstructive airway. It passes air into your nasal cavity and mouth continuously to avoid disrupted sleep. One benefit of the CPAP machine is that you use the machine in your own home. It has added new heated air in some models to avoid the dry air that causes sore throats or nose bleeds. The machine has given my mother a well-rested night and a better outlook on the future.

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Humans are not Perfect

Aurora S., Dumont High School

Humans are not robots, thus humans are not perfect. Some students can breeze thru a test while others have to work hard to achieve the grade they want. The leadership of our society has pushed our youth to essentially be “perfect.” There is more emphasis on testing and less time on learning valuable concepts which can help us students in achieving our goals. An abundance of tests is not the answer for students to reach the next level. More focus on techniques will better prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs. There are numerous types of students, but the education system places them in two groups. Group one experiences the standard curriculum and groups two experiences the special education curriculum. When people hear that a child is in special education, they might think that the child has a mental disability. This is not always the case.

In 4th grade, I was diagnosed with a comprehension learning disability and speech disorder. I was placed into special education for language arts and mathematics. When I first found out about my learning disability, I didn’t know what it meant. I was shocked and concerned. My first thought was: “were my friends going to treat me differently?” I soon realized that my education is more important than any peer pressure. Once I realized that the special education program was going to help me, I cooperated. I began working with the teachers and we came up with a plan that would help me get back into the “regular” classes. The plan included study techniques and memorization skills. I was assigned goals every marking period and I achieved every single one of them. From day number one I set my mind on getting out of the special education program by the end of 8th grade. It was an ambitious goal that I had to work twice as hard for. The teachers gave me the special education placement test at the end of 8th grade. The test revealed I was ready to be taken out of the special education classes and placed into College Prep courses except for Mathematics which I was placed into Algebra I. I was so thrilled and proud of myself for this huge accomplishment, but I knew there were obstacles still in front of me. I will always have my comprehension learning disability and speech disorder, but now I have accepted it and I learned how to deal with it. I don’t allow my disabilities to stop me from reaching my goals. Since I’ve been taken out of the special education program, my academics have grown tremendously. In addition to my academics early in my junior year my guidance counselor recommended me to tutor 2 special education students in the Dumont School District. I have been tutoring them for the past year. With the assistance of my tutoring, their grades have improved by one letter grade in every subject. When I heard this I felt so proud of myself. Knowing what it is like being on the outside looking in, I can share my triumphs with hopes of finding their own.

I will continue to push myself to be the best I can be. This is easier said than done. Since I had to grow up, dealing with my comprehension learning disability and speech disorder, I feel as though I can give back to others struggling with these disabilities as well. Entering my freshman year of college, I would like to study under the Pre-Med track in hopes of helping others understand disabilities. I look back at being placed in special education and most people would consider this to be a setback and I now realize it might have been the best thing that could have ever of happened to me.

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Mother

Eric H., Victor Central School

The crowd roared as our football team got closer to the goal. Just then a phone rang in the crowd. It was my mother’s phone. She rarely received phone calls and wondered who could be calling. She noticed the area code was in Maine where she grew up and still had family. She was nervous as she answered the call. It was not a good sign—a doctor was on the other end of the line.

Her mother was aging and dealing with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She had been dealing with what she thought was a cold, but as it turned out, it was pneumonia. She was feeling severely ill and was taken to the hospital. Over the next few hours her condition worsened. It was to the point where the doctors needed to know whether to resuscitate should it be necessary. It was close to becoming necessary. That is when my mother was called. My mother was asked to make the decision on whether or not efforts should be made to resuscitate.

My mother had recently had a discussion with her mother about this exact situation. Based on that discussion she knew that her mother would choose—do not resuscitate. My mother asked the doctor questions about what efforts had been done up to this point and whether there was anything noninvasive that could be done to improve her mother’s chances of surviving. The doctor suggested trying CPAP therapy. He explained this would help open the airway to allow a higher level of oxygen into the bloodstream and perhaps give her a chance to survive. However, he thought perhaps her condition had degraded too far for the therapy to work. He did not give my mother much hope in terms of the outcome.

My mother gave the go ahead to try CPAP therapy. Doctors provided ongoing status calls on whether the CPAP therapy was working. Miraculously, there was a stop to the downward spiral and then small hints of improvement.

My mother attributes her mother’s survival to the CPAP therapy. She thought for sure that her mother would not survive based on the doctor’s description of her condition upon entering the hospital and the rapid decline in her ability to breathe. She thanked the doctor for suggesting the use of CPAP. Continued use of CPAP contributed to improvement that allowed her mother to leave the hospital.

After leaving the hospital, her mother continued to use CPAP therapy at night while she slept to improve her ability to get oxygen to the lungs and ultimately to the bloodstream. While she did not like having a mask over her face, she did find that when she woke in the mornings, she was more rested and felt better than she had before using CPAP. She was willing to put up with a small inconvenience for the benefits CPAP provided her.

I will never forget the day my mother received the call from the hospital. We were very fortunate that CPAP therapy was available and that it was recommended by the doctor. It gave us all more time to spend with someone we all loved very much.

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William

Erika C., Calvary Christian Academy

 

  William had long harassed his family by means of his undiagnosed sleep disorder. His wife, in fact, had taken to harassing him back. She had woken him at least three times last night to inform that he had stopped breathing. He wasn’t totally convinced, it seemed to him that he wouldn’t be nearly as tired if she would just let him sleep.
With a yawn he trudged down the stairs in search of a mug of coffee. Finding it he attempted to pour a cup, but spilt it over the counter and his hand. Mumbling about his recent increase in clumsiness he went to get a rag to sop up the mess, however, he had to initiate his hunt twice as he forgot what he was walking to the sink for.
     He started out for the car, but returned moments later in search of his wallet. He began the trek upstairs, puffing as he went. William stomped down the stairs, now in a bad mood, and groused about losing some weight until he was well out of breath.
He finally made it out of the house, into the car, and to work, all on time. He began his assignments among them, scheduling appointments. He then recalled he had a meeting planned for noon today and rushed into his car. He arrived in the conference room with not a moment to spare only to discover it empty. Pulling out his phone he learned that the appointment he was trying to attend was scheduled for noon tomorrow. A closer look revealed he had made the meeting only a few hours before hopping into his car. He drove back to work fed up with his faulty memory. Once he got back to the office he grabbed his phone and called his doctor.
Next week he attended his appointment, on time and on the right date. He described his memory deficiency, weight gain, tiredness, irritability and even the snoring to the physician. The medic checked him over and then looked up William’s nose. He found William had a deviated septum and scheduled him a polysomnography.
William took his sleep study, the results showed his breathing was interrupted 31 times in an hour. He was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and scheduled for surgery. His surgery went well, despite its being scheduled over Christmas, William did quite well too. After his surgery he began using a CPAP machine and had another polysomnography. This sleep study showed he had nearly no apnea. He felt good for a while, more rested, clearheaded, happier, and even a little bit smart; but after a few months the grogginess returned.
He went to the doctor again, while taking his stats the medic found his oxygen saturation level was a mere 71%, low enough for the technician to call a crash cart. He was referred for yet another sleep study. When the results came back they showed William had had 54 apneas in an hour!
He took home a CPAP machine; but the mask was so disagreeable William began taking it off in his sleep. He talked to the doctor about it and, after several refinements, it was comfortable enough to remain on his dormant face. With the further adjustments of moisturizing crème for his nose and a lot more water for himself the mask was bearable.
After a few months William found himself waking up refreshed. Tucking his wallet into his back pocket he strode down the stairs to grab a mug of coffee. He stooped with a smile to pat his dog on the head and grab his briefcase before heading off to work.
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Sleep Troubles

Gobrielle F., Elizabethtown College

 

Uhhhhh…

David Williams cracked an eye open to the sun streaming in through the bedroom’s bay window. Another sleepless night. He lay there a moment, experiencing a tide of pain roll from his head down to his feet. The pounding in his ears was reminiscent of the tribal drums with which he was all too familiar. A shooting pain had him clutching his jaw and reaching for the breath strips sitting on the nightstand. The shrill ringing of the telephone on the bedside table shatters the calm of the early morning.

Steep the leaves until the water is a deep, earthen auburn.

The words of the shaman he had met on sabbatical back in 1976 floated across his mind more and more lately. He had met the Onondaga shaman during his last sabbatical in the autumn of 1976. A sabbatical he’d taken for research as well as health reasons. The medicine man had given him a small leather drawstring pouch filled with herbs and leaves. He instructed him to brew the leaves into a tea to cure his “sleep troubles.” He had schooled his face into a grave and serious mask; while masking his skepticism. Of course, back then he had only suffered a couple of sleepless nights a week. Nothing a strong cup of coffee couldn’t alleviate.

Looking back now on the last year, he couldn’t remember a night where he hadn’t woken up in a cold sweat, struggling to get air back into his lungs. Suddenly, that tea is looking better and better. Hell, a little more caffeine couldn’t hurt. Resolved to give it a shot, he rolls the pouch between his hands on his way down to the kitchen. He lays it on the counter as he goes about filling the kettle.

As he sits down at the counter to wait, he examines the pouch more closely. The worn leather was adorned with an intricate beadwork that had him, unconsciously, leaning closer and closer.

PHWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!”

The shrieking of the kettle brings him out of his musings. With a quick shake of his head, he gets up and makes his way over to the stove. He pours the steaming water over the leaves; and as they steep, he brings the mug under his nose and inhales deeply; the spicy heady aroma comforting.

He tentatively takes a sip. Then another. And another until the cup is gone. His eyelids feel heavier and his hand drives the mug back down to the counter with enough force to make it rattle.

Wow, that stuff really hits you fast…

Creeping black tendrils skulk across his vision as sleep threatens to overtake him. He trudges into the living room and sinks down into the couch. His last words before slipping into the darkness,

Gotta be tryptophan or somet…

He blinks and finds himself on a desert plain on a path, bordered on each side by cacti. He is disoriented but not frightened as he thinks the tea to be some kind of hallucinogen. After musing a few moments at the strangeness of the dream, he begins to walk. Time itself seems to be moving much more slowly. After only about a quarter mile, David’s breathing becomes labored. Soon after, the heat becomes even more oppressive on his back and each step seems to require more and more effort. As if he was wading through molasses.

Further and further he trudges along the path until in the distance another form is visible. He holds up his arm to block out the offending sun and squints his eyes to make it out. He blinks once again and suddenly it’s right in front of him.

David blinks slowly as the turtle comes to a stop a few yards away. It opens its mouth and speaks, with a voice full of gravitas, reminiscent of James Earl Jones.

-“David, you must listen. You’ve come to me in this world for a reason.

WWha-?

               -We don’t have much time, David. The troubles that you have been having, are not yours alone. I have come to charge you with a task. You have the tools to make it a reality. Our interaction is sowing the seeds in your subconscious, which will remain when you awake. You will create the technology to help others like you, David. A machine capable of restoring sleep to yourself and others. Our time is almost done. Don’t forget what I have told you. Go now.

David jerks back to consciousness with a start.

 

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