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SPECIAL REPORT: Tossing and Turning - Sleep Disorders

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by breathing muscles relaxing too much during sleep
GREEN BAY (WFRV) Ervin Nettekoven's home on Lake Winneconne is peaceful even when it's windy. But finding a peaceful home site was easier than a peaceful nights sleep for him and his wife.

"She said she didn't mind the snoring as much as when I stopped snoring. It would be for a prolonged period of time and it worried the heck out of her," he said.

The complications from snoring and halted breathing almost proved costly in the work place.

"We had a new manager come into our plant, and I was in lower management, and he came in to give us a talk after work hours. And I fell asleep," Nettekoven said.

Only the nudging of a co-worker kept Ervin employed. Finally, he sought help from Aurora BayCare's Sleep Center. He was hooked up to sensors that monitored his pulse, breathing, eye movement and other functions as he slept. Those readings proved very revealing

"It was something like 200 times that I woke up during the night. And that's why you're so tired in the morning. You just are not sleeping," said Nettekoven.

That indicated Nettekoven was suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. A sleep disorder that over time can lead serious health problems.

"We are coming to a recognition of how many cardio-vascular disorders are associated with untreated sleep apnea," said Dr. James Gapinski, Aurora BayCare Sleep Medicine.

So, Nettekoven went on Continuous Positive Air Pressure therapy...or C-PAP. He was fitted with one of the first C-PAP systems, despite some challenges.

"I'm claustrophobic. That first night I had to talk to myself so I could withstand it," he said. "You put that on and the pressure from it just opens up everything, And you can sleep, you can actually breathe better with it."

And in Ervin Nettekoven's opinion. it can help you live better.

"Just for their well being. You could never wake up. Because that can happen when you stop breathing. Snoring." he said.

In the conclusion of "Tossing and Turning: Sleep disorders", a doctor of sleep medicine will be in studio to answer your e-mail questions about sleep disorders and some of the treatments.

Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story.

 GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - Almost from the time we awake and get into the daily routine, it's easy for some, like Ervin Nettekoven to know, they just haven't been sleeping well.

"Just loud, loud snoring and stopping also," Nettekoven says.

At that point, sleep medicine specialists like Dr. Richard Potts of St. Vincent Hospital's regional sleep disorder center suggest coming in for evaluation.

"If you're excessively tired during the day time, especially if you're having trouble driving working," Dr. Potts says. "Then you should come into the sleep center."

Once it's been determined that a patient is suffering from a sleep disorder, doctors can take the next step: in the lab.

Sleep medicine specialists at St. Vincent Hospital Regional Sleep Disorder Center determine the issues a patient maybe facing by attaching measuring devices to patients determine a patient's sleep activities.

"First, it can tell us whether you're sleeping or not, the quality of sleep and the stages or your sleep." Dr. Potts says. "From the breathing standpoint, it allows us to differentiate all the different breathing events when you're actually in the center."

All those parameters are captured on computer graphs for more in-depth study and interpretation.

"We can tell that they have one, two, three, four maybe five apneas right in a row," Dr. James Gapinski with Aurora Baycare Sleep Medicine says, so this is consistent with severe sleep apnea."

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by breathing muscles relaxing too much during sleep. Continuous Positive Air Pressure therapy, better known as C-PAP uses a nostril or face mask to send consistent air pressure to those muscles.

"It helps to stop the throat from collapsing while you're sleeping," Dr. Potts says. "So your quality of sleep improves.  The oxygen level stays good by not having these while fluctuations in your blood pressure and heart rate."

Another option just approved by the F-D-A is the "Inspire", an implantable device that stimulates the nerves around the air way to stay open during sleep.

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