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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Sleep apnoea - a simple solution

Martin Jensen, author of How to Get What You Want and How to Keep Fit Without Exercise has another hint for you.
My wife, Dr Jensen, had a problem. She has a family history of high blood pressure and currently takes a low dose antihypertensive to counter it. This worked reasonably well. But, inexplicably, the morning blood pressure stayed high.

Fortunately, we sleep in the same bed and I know how she sleeps - on her back, snoring loudly and with difficulty - the snores interrupted by inability to get air. Because of this, I turn her on her side whenever I wake and hear her. On her side, the snoring stops. But, next time I check her, she is on her back again and the cycle continues.

Now I  have no medical qualifications, despite working in drug companies for much of my life. And I can hardly tell my wife, a doctor, what to do. Not that that stops me. So I suggested to her that the hypertension could be sleep apnoea induced. After a particularly gruelling morning when her BP diastolic was 105  (yes, she keeps a small domestic blood pressure machine by the bed)  I told her that we had to try new methods.

What did we do?

We went to a local haberdashery store and bought a Tri-pillow - one of those "L" shaped things that people usually use to prop themselves up in bed when reading a book.

I also chocked up the head of the bed with two 4 inch high blocks of wood. This works fine for gastric reflux but that wasn't why I did it. I had the notion that elevating her head more might help.

We then positioned her with the L-shaped pillow on top of her normal pillow for extra head height. This also meant that she could sleep on her side without it hurting her shoulder. We placed the the second part of the "L" behind her to stop her turning on her back easily.  We added two pillows at her back to make flopping on her back even harder.

Her head was now elevated, in total, perhaps seven inches more than before.

The next night, she did not snore. Even when she managed to turn on her back, she breathed a little more heavily but did not snore.

And the BP in the morning? Normal!

And so it has been for the rest of this week.

As I say, I have no medical degree. But this work perfectly well for her. There is obviously something about elevating the head and lying on the side that does the job - and avoids the entire rigmarole of tests, masks, oxygen cylinders and all the other interventions she was dreading.  All you need is a $25 pillow and a couple of blocks of wood.

Now there may be nothing novel about all this. Others must have discovered it, too. But another voice in the wilderness won't hurt.

So I've set it all down here, hoping these simple changes might help others.  

Meanwhile, we go on our way rejoicing.

You'll find Martin's great 'HOW-TOs' on Buzzword Books.