If you’re a bus or a train commuter, I’m sure you’ve sat next to or near a loudly snoring man or woman. Most often, they’ll be older or overweight, but they can be you and thin as well. Whenever it happens, it can be an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved. My first reaction is to wake him up and ask if he’s been treated of obstructive sleep apnea, but that would be rude. I’ve also thought about slipping one of my cards into his pocket.
The snoring sounds and the neck position are classic: His head is bent forward somewhat as he begins to snore louder and louder. He stops breathing abruptly, and then wakes up enough to lift up his head, and the cycle starts all over again.
It just kills me that statistically, this person will go on living with a potentially life-threatening condition that may be harmful to himself or to others. Unless someone is rude to this person and makes him realize that he may have a serious medical problem, he’s never going to find out. Unfortunately, even his doctor is unlikely to ask about his sleep quality, or even inquire about any snoring. He’ll continue to be treated for his high blood pressure and diabetes, wondering why his numbers aren’t coming down.
I make every effort to give out information about sleep apnea in any public or social setting (within reason, of course). For example, one of my neighbors in my building just happened to mention that her husband snores heavily after finding out what I do for a living. She eventually gets her husband to see a sleep doctor, who confirms obstructive sleep apnea, and places him a CPAP machine. He’s now sleeping much better, and his wife is sleeping better too. Invariably, one or two people that I meet at social functions have revelations as to why they’re so tired, no matter how long they sleep, eat healthy and exercise regularly.
How often do you see or meet someone what has obvious sleep apnea, but were afraid to say anything? How did it make you feel?