Expert Interview: William Headapohl, Author of Sleep Or Die: Overcome Apnea Before It Overcomes You

I interview Mr. William Headapohl about his new book, Sleep or Die: Overcome Apnea Before It Overcomes You

Please fill in the form below to receive your free MP3 recording:

Contact Information
First Name *
Last Name
Email *

*By clicking ‘submit’ above, you are agreeing to receive ongoing communications from Dr. Park including monthly newsletters, events alerts, and other such written correspondences. Your e-mail will remain strictly confidential and will not be disclosed to any third parties without your prior written consent. You may unsubscribe to any or all portions of our e-mail correspondences at any time. Thank you for your cooperation.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

15 thoughts on “Expert Interview: William Headapohl, Author of Sleep Or Die: Overcome Apnea Before It Overcomes You

  1. The downside of the compartmentalization of medicine, including dentistry, facilitates a compartmentalized perspective. If we consider survival priority of the body it begins with the airway, which, in man is structurally compromised in it’s instability, which show up as OSA during sleep. Dentistry has not looked into the impact of the contours, shape and size of the oral cavity aside from speaking and swallowing in constructing full dentures and building the mouth all at once. We ignore the impact upon airway and ease of breathing and the physiology impacted by it.
    To truly appreciate the tongue we need to view it mechanically considering its suspension system that must include the hyoid bone and muscles as well as the origin and insertions of both structures and sets of muscles, looking as the impact of pairs of them in their impact upon the tongue as the right and left palatoglossus, pharyngoglossus, styloglossus, hyoglossus and similar muscles of the hyoid and even involving the temporal-mandibular complex as they mechanically impact the pulling upon the extrinsic muscles that make up the tongue as it effects speaking,swallowing and breathing.
    This still leaves the shape (contours., size and position of the teeth and jaws in how the provide the contour and size of the oral cavity in which the tongue must move and bump and be deflected by or be guided and supported by or even unsupported by these, physical structures (like a blind person moving in a cave that has a top half that moves against the bottom half in three dimensions changing this cave interior) during rest and function, including speaking, swallowing and breathing.
    And our body posture impacts the position of the jaws too.
    If we consider the design function of the body is to survive, we honor the sequence of CPR in airway, then, breathing, then circulation round the clock and in all situations, not only those requiring CPR. The perspective of a scientist is likely to learn and understand “everything” possible about the hierarchy of functioning, including the anatomy of the structures and relationships that I noted above and more, as it all appears to be connected: anatomically, physiologically, biochemically and spiritually.
    It is complex and involves many interactions and, I believe, has the most influential impact of all upon human survival, which includes ability and quality of sleep. It is just beyond that compartment and has more life-death immediate impact and influence I suggest that quality of sleep is a symptom of ease of breathing, which is from impaired oral function as defined as “ease of swallowing, speaking and breathing”.
    For medicine to claim it is science based, it must account for this, even though , using it’s current methodology, medicine may not be able to fully understand and analyze this. However, we are now more technologically equipped for studying and understanding how this body of ours functions. I say this because multiple simultaneous variables are now being addressable utilizing modern technology. Perhaps the perspectives of engineers or other disciplines will help us better utilize newer methodologies for this.
    There are numerous articles showing these various relationships that I am addressing, when we look the human body from the perspective of “Its design function is to keep itself alive. Why is it functioning in a particular way and a particular time to manage this? How is it compensating to manage our body’s ability to breath? What is the impact of these compensations upon the rest of the body and even upon it’s ability to breath?”.
    Understanding this is part of our quest for knowledge, like going to space, “the space program”. There was no immediate application to make money out of it: however, with the knowledge gained in the process and information obtained, practical application and money opportunities were enormous.
    Ignoring this means we are managing the outcomes of the effects of the compensations to keep us alive, with immediacy of impact on life getting first priority of the ANS. This is poorly leveraged and the foundation of snowballing medical costs. If we don’t solve the origin of the problem, the origin will persist, often appearing as another problem, a relapse of the problem or both. And intervention can create further insult to this. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. What have we been doing, when we look at the big picture.
    So how do we tackle this problem which appears to me as “Ignorance of how the body functions in management of the airway for ease (stress free or low stress) of breathing, its impact and how it is impacted. How do we tackle even being or becoming aware that there is ignorance?
    How do we recognize lack of knowledge of the anatomy associated with this and how it functions and how do we remedy this?
    How do we assure the institutions of medicine and dentistry and all involved in education, research and practice, that their positions are not in jeopardy; however, adjustment is being made to a ship that has been off course and that impact of corrections will be gradual, possibly , even, generational, and we, mankind, will be able to thrive.
    Because, institutional structures and associated research is through specialty training, a compartmentalization, how do we address interest in and funding understanding the design function of the body, including the anatomy that impacts it?
    How do we make it a “global” concern and germinate a new perspective that reflects this?

  2. My doctor think I have sleep apnea. I believe him but I don’t have that kind of money to do the test. I don’t have insurance because I lost my job due to a wrong diagnosis. I want to live for my little boy because I am a single mother. Please I need some help financially. Is any one out there can guarantee this and save my live not for me but for my child to have a mother who he loves so dearly.
    I would be waiting for a positive reply

    Sincerely yours
    Jotika Singh

  3. Sleep and breathing are complicated. Arthur is making the key point in his comment above. Since medicine is essentially specialized (that’s where the money is), something as broad as sleep apnea is not well understood. It touches many areas. I hope to discuss a framework on how to look at the problem. This framework can then help determine the best course to overcome apnea.

    Avenging Apnea one word at a time:)

  4. Jotika,

    I feel for you. Listen in and figure out what your reasons are for developing OSA, and then apply approaches that are likely to help. Most of them are free, they just require practice. As I will say in my talk – OSA is both inherited traits and lifestyle choices. The lifestyle changes are simple and are shown effective in medical studies for many. For example in a Swedish diet study, losing weight to the ideal weight showed great results. Of the 1000 participants, 500 no longer needed CPAP.

    The number one predictor is neck size. Bigger = more apnea. Smaller = less. If you lose weight, your neck gets smaller. it can be as simple as that.

    A Brazilian study showed if you do tongue exercises 20 minutes a day you can almost cut your apnea in half. The side effect of the exercise is neck size reduction. Go figure. That’s free.

    You have options. If you wish to read my book, shoot me an email and I will send you a copy.

    You are on your way. By asking for help you are moving from victim to victor or apneac to avenger.



  5. What your answer demonstrates is the hierarchy of human survival shows airway as first in order as it controls air supply that, when completely cut off for several minutes usually leads to brain cellular death. It trumps sleep as a timely direct threat of survival.
    That is why our ANS brings us to increase sympathetic levels and lighter stages of sleep with airway impediment during sleep. As instrumentation becomes more sensitive, diagnosis includes less and less degree of structural blockage, which demonstrates how sensitive our ANS is to protect us.
    If we recognize this we appreciate the hierarchy that drives our system supports our physiology to keep us alive.We see how the systems are a reflection of this. We see how it alters our biochemistry, physiology and anatomy in the process, even genes in the stimuli of anaerobic (cancer cell) proliferation.
    I suggest that it is less complex when we perceive the hierarchy and how reactions impact one another looking for and focusing on cause and effect rather than coincidence.
    If we do we are likely to see how biochemistry is most often a reaction to physiology being compromised with potential of death. We will also appreciate how the body reacts in excess and then balances itself back into harmony (homeostasis) and how this contributes to further, often, subtle imbalance.
    We will benefit more if we rescue “Obstructive Apnea” from the confines of sleep.
    It’s airway! It’s airway. And primarily the jaw tongue throat relationship.
    When it is working in harmony with the body we are calm, alert and “in the zone”, not in a compensation, postural or adrenaline type mode. I need for blood sugar is not elevated to support repetitive calls of the ANS to the “stress response” to balance the unstable airway (tongue), and we are not obese because of this, better when the airway is stable round-the-clock rather than just during sleep.
    Hook up people to an ICU type monitor including the measurement of CO2 and observe them during round the clock activity, including when they are working and interacting with people and see what’s really going on and we can better utilize science to measure all of this.
    Your thoughts on this?

  6. Arthur,

    I have pondered your comments. My overall observation in the apnea area has evolved over time. Originally it was to just get rid of it. Ring Ring, doctor lets schedule surgery. Well, that call did not work out for me. Then, I thought there must be other things you can do. Hello diet and exercise. Yes that works, but if you have a compromised airway, that does not always help and the body is out of balance thus impeding progress. Then, I followed the conventional wisdom and research that basically says it is a plumbing issue. Exercises help tune up the plumbing and perhaps even the connection with the brain to improve and maintain muscle tone. Of course external tools like CPAP are shown to work when used.

    All this is to say, I believe there is likely a root cause that worsens O2 de-saturation. Is it as simple as airway collapse as you point out?

    Take a look at the research on airway collapse done in Brazil. I posted a blog about it on and their findings showed a much higher percent of type one collagen in the airway with patients who have OSA. Why. Not sure. I propose it may be related to sugar in the diet. Insulin works at storing and pushing the sugar into the muscle cells. Often to the point where the celss will no longer accept more and deform. Could it be that this process is then answered by building collagen one in the same area and inadvertently resulting in a more collapsible airway?


  7. I believe it is an effect. Consider the hypothesis that our body is “super-sensitive” and always adapting to survive and the CPR priorities (ABC) run the show. Then consider that the slightest trigger from changed airflow potential signals “threat” the response to which is “fight or flight”with catecholamine release. The cardiovascular effect alone, even in the arteriole walls is electrical impulse flow increased with nor-epinephrine release and muscle contraction, all of which requires energy and sugar.
    Add to this the constancy of this, because of the instability of the jaw-tongue throat complex, that does not exist in other animals, and you see an overworked adrenal gland (compared to other animals that have separate tubes to the lungs and the gut. The result is imbalance throughout the endocrine system, which is triggered by this airway instability ,rooted in the tongue anatomy and related dynamics, because this is the dynamic aspect of the human airway.
    And note that this, as other compensations/reactions, is not exact, but, likely, excessive, with subsequent counter reactions until homeostasis is reached. Biochemistry-physiology-anatomy have feedback loops with one another.
    I therefore, suggest that this is either compensative and/or adaptive. Even the similarity of anterior temporalis and tongue muscle to cardiac muscle may be adaptive.
    If we utilize the hypothesis that “the design function of the body is to keep itself alive”, I believe that our perspective will lead us to ask why is the body behaving or reacting in a particular way, within this the context of this “design function”. From this, different cause and effect appear from information already gathered by the scientific and medical community. I believe that this, upon being tested, will hold true to the hypothesis.
    In my articles, posted on my website, I discuss this in different ways. The variables of reactions and cross effects are limitless (almost) just as 10 numbers can create numerous telephone numbers, inter-reactions can create signs and symptoms that we catalog into syndromes,diseases, dysfunctions and defects for which we have protocols to repair, replace relieve and even prevent.
    It appears that they are targeted on effects of root cause of our body survival reaction or compensation that leads to the signs and symptoms to which we have given a name. And the root (survival) cause persists,continuing to require compensations to keep us alive, which it does until we die! Even congenital defects can-not be corrected in harmony with this, because “we” have never studied the dynamics and actions of the jaw-tongue-throat complex in how it is affected and has effects.
    If there becomes an appreciation for and recognition of this and acknowledgment of its role in our body functions, we may now have enough advanced technology to study and understand this complex with so many variables impacting and impacted by it, anatomically, physiologically and biochemically. Just look at the anatomy, alone!
    It may seem embarrassing, that mankind, appears to not have recognized this yet, despite our study of anatomy, etc. It is in front of us yet “stealth”. The same condition existed when we discovered that the world is not flat. I would prefer no repeat of the counter-reaction to Galileo when he noted that the earth was circling the sun rather than the sun rotating around the earth.
    If you see validity in this, I invite you to contact me to take this further, in inquiry and action!

  8. As an addendum to my 7/27/12 response, I believe that we need to address the impact of our perspective on our choice of words in describing phenomenon and how words impact our perspective.
    Looking and the anatomy of the many muscles and skeletal structures that impact the position posture and contour of the nine (actually 13 if we account for right and left sides) that make up the tongue let alone the hyoid and muscles associated with mandibular movement. Then add postural muscles influencing position of the head and neck collapse-ability or dilate-ability of the airway are not natural phenomena, they are responses to PAP that forces it’s way past anatomic structures and relationships.
    I suspect that careful CAT scan and MRI analysis of the surfaces and structural surfaces variations that impact airflow and tension and relaxation on various muscles including the impact this has on their information through their innervation that includes the 5th, 10th, 12th and even the 7th cranial nerves impact information to the brain and impacts on the ANS.
    We relate to these areas as a cartoon drawing or rather than a detailed anatomic rendition and this impacts our thinking to describe a “large tongue” which can be more an impact of posture and position than actual size or we use descriptions of base of tongue or root of the tongue.
    The article does not account for postural changes as describe in Maorong Tongs on Compensatory Postural Head Changes in Patients with OSA: or The conclusions associated with this address the big picture of anatomy that is associated with OSA symptoms and likely numerous other ones including musculo-skeletal ones.
    This is why it is not “airway collapse” which I believe is a misnomer!

  9. During the interview William mentioned that one of his associates thought that “if we treated everyone with Sleep Apnea we would bankrupt the system”. I would say that whoever made that statement lacks a basic understanding of what Sleep Apnea does to a life!!

    In spite of the fact that I probably did have this disease starting in my teens I was able to establish over 20 years as a broadcast technician, support a family, gladly pay my taxes, and simply be a productive member of society. But the disease whittled away at my ability to see how others are affected by my actions, my ability to deal with the increased irritability, and my ability to suppress my first reaction to the actions of others so my wife and I separated. But the disease continued to take my ability to effectively use short term memory, my ability to solve problems, and, as previously mentioned, my ability to relate to my other team members so my broadcasting carrier ended. Indeed, my Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Extreme Hypoxia (nadir 55%!!!) was not found by a doctor, it was found by a fellow bunk mate in shelter.

    During my time in shelter I noted that about a third of those with me had many of the risk factors along with the cognitive signature of those untreated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

    So I went from being a productive broadcast technician, husband, and active citizen to become a shelter dweller moving fast toward a Heart Attack, Cancer, Stroke, Accident, Alzheimer’s, Nephritis, or the intentional self harm often associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (8 of the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S.A.).

    What we cannot deal with in our society is the loss of our productive members. What we cannot and are currently not dealing with is the heavy burden of our neighbours and ourselves becoming sick. Very simply we cannot afford to NOT find and treat those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea before they loose productivity and health. THAT will bankrupt us and is in the process of doing so.

    I do hope we get some perspective on this soon!!!

  10. Tod, I love your point. The wake of this untreated illness swamps all things around us.
    BTW – the associate you referenced is a doctor involved in helping seniors stay in their homes longer and agrees with you, but was expressing what he believes the insurance companies believe.

    Best to you,