Sleep

For the past three or four years, I’ve been plagued by a variety of ailments. At least once a month, and sometimes more frequently, I caught a cold or flu and missed work days because I was sick. I went from doctor to doctor, had CT scans on my sinuses, took antibiotics, worked with a nutritionist and meditated regularly, thinking maybe constant illness was a reaction to stress.

Late last year, my 25-year-old son started saying to me, “Mom, I hear you gasping when you wake up in the middle of the night.” He encouraged me to get a sleep test. I’m a woman and relatively thin, so I seemed an unlikely candidate for sleep apnea, even though I’ve struggled with sleep most of my adult life. My son insisted. One home sleep study and two overnight sleep studies later, I discovered he was right: I had sleep apnea, a condition in which people stop breathing, sometimes for long periods, during sleep. In January, I started using a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine (a sexy addition to my flannel pajamas) and have gotten sick only once since. I sleep through the night most nights, wake up feeling refreshed, and no longer experience daytime headaches — which I didn’t realize I had until they were gone.