This is partly a note of thanks, and partly a note of encouragement to others who are living with sleep apnea. First, a word of thanks. I am a physician who has OSA, and your shirt is the best device of its kind that I have found on the market. I encourage others to forget about the 'tennis ball' approach. I tried to improvise this, and after considerable tinkering, found that the ball is not big enough to work. Particularly on a soft 'pillow top' mattress, it just sunk into the mattress, and I woke up on my back. On a hard bed, it could be uncomfortable enough to produce a partial wakening (which you will not remember) but which is the last thing you want, considering that is one of the main effects of sleep apnea. If the reader has sleep apnea, and has struggled (I use this word struggle, because that is what it feels like day to day) to find a solution, you are not alone. Though I have an M.D. behind my name, and more resources than most, it took about 9 years to get diagnosed, and another 3-4 years to find the right solution.
I am not overweight, (31' waist), and thus not the 'typical' sleep apnea patient. Most of these people are told they are working too hard (as I was 12 years ago), or are told that they are depressed (ditto), or told they have ADD (ditto) and sent away without the right treatment. If you fall into this category, and never feel rested, despite adequate hours in bed, I urge you to push for a sleep study. Hard. Normal weight sleep apnea is more common than you think, and can run in families. My mother and brother both have it. You may not remember waking up at night. Many apneic episodes only produce partial awakenings, which you will not remember. I thought I was waking up once or twice in an evening. I was waking up 40 times an hour. An easy and inexpensive way to convince your doctor to order a sleep study is to have your spouse take a digital camera and make a "video" (really for sound, hold it close to the sleeper) of you asleep, and "snoring", and play it for the doc. An apneic episode is pretty obvious this way, and the recording is hard to argue with. This is how I got one of my friends treated. It is also a good way to convince a spouse he needs treatment. (No further comment on this).
CPAP is still the "gold standard', and should be tried first. If you can tolerate it, great. Half can't tolerate it over the long term. Many times, no other option is discussed, so you go home, try it, then try several different masks (four in my case), then many give up. There are other options, including body positioning devices, like the pajama pillow, and dental appliances. I had to get creative and use both in combination, and this is the only thing that has worked for me over the long term. If CPAP does not work for you, and your sleep physician is not willing to try other measures, find one who is. That is what I had to do to get effective treatment. Dental appliances are not as straightforward as they seem. Optimally, find a dentist who specializes in sleep apnea and TMJ, as I did. The third dental appliance was finally effective. The first two had been made by a general dentist. Surgical solutions are beyond my expertise and personal experience. In any case, there is no harm to using a body repositioning device, like the pajama pillow, as an adjunct. It can help other treatments work better.
Whatever approach is taken, be sure to get a sleep study done to confirm that it is working, and have one done periodically, as the condition can change over time. In my case, within a few months of the last study, my sleepiness returned. Return of snoring is an obvious sign the OSA may be coming back. Other important signs that your sleep is being disturbed are not remembering dreams when you wake up (you are not getting REM sleep), and, in men, not having morning erections, which happen only during REM. This is not just normal ageing.
The effects of OSA can come on so gradually, you can think, as I did, that it is just ageing. Pay attention to how you feel the morning after your sleep study. If you immediately feel better the morning after an overnight sleep study with CPAP, your problem is not just overwork, or ageing, or depression, and eliminating all the sleep debt that you have accumulated could change a lot. In addition to the medical benefits, correcting the OSA by whatever means improves energy level, mood, sexual function, memory, concentration...... In a word, it can feel rejuvenating. OSA can also have devastating effects on relationships, and correcting the underlying condition often makes people more positive, less irritable or moody, and more "present".
I say all of this because it can take a lot of time, effort, creativity, persistence, and money to solve this problem, but once it is fixed (you will know) it is more than worth the effort. Keep looking for solutions. I hope that someone out there reads this and can benefit from my experience.
Doctor Frank Triana sent us the above letter for our use. It is his personal experience with Sleep Apnea and explains his obstacles and how he is responding to them. We appreciate his endorsement (under your Doctors direction) of the use of our Pajama Pillow or body positioning device as an adjunct.