I spent Sunday night alone in a dark and windowless room. I finally participated in a sleep study. It looks like I don’t have sleep apnea. Jack was my technician. He was a really nice guy and made the evening less obnoxious than it could have been.
He attached a bunch of electrodes (is that the right word?) to my head, neck and face and a couple on my legs. Then he strapped a couple of elastic bands with sensors on them around my waste and chest – on the outside of my pajamas. It was quite attractive. I was sure that I would have to beat him off with a stick during the night, but Jack spent twenty years in the Air Force before this job. He’s a pretty disciplined guy.
He pointed at a camera that would record my every scratch or sneeze. He then pointed to an intercom and assured me that all I had to do was say his name, and he’d come running to fulfill my slightest request. He was as good as his word. I had to use the facilities three times during the night. He simply unhooked my cords and sent me on my way. He re-hooked everything when I was finished.
When Jack left the room, I puffed up my pillows that I brought from home, and settled down to listen to a relaxation CD that I had tucked in my overnight bag. I tried to mellow out while cleansing my chakras under a waterfall. I had no idea there would be cleansing of chakras when I ordered the CD on Amazon. I thought it was only soothing music but I went with it. It beat watching scary news before trying to sleep.
Jack said that I only achieved rapid eye movement (REM) once during the night, and I was unable to sleep on my back, which is the best position for sleep apnea occurrences. He said that he couldn’t say positively that I don’t have sleep apnea, but my oxygen level was good all night. I received this as good news. I’ve now lost 45 pounds, and I believe that influenced the outcome of this study. I’m pretty sure I had some instances of sleep apnea before the weight loss.
There were two slightly unusual events. My legs twitched uncontrollably a few times. The other event was a little more unusual. Rem sleep is when you receive your deepest and most restful sleep, and it’s when you dream due to heightened brain activity. We are asleep about 90 minutes before we reach REM and must go through several stages of non-REM sleep to get there. Paralysis occurs during REM sleep. It’s a safety mechanism that prevents us from acting out our dreams. We could dream that we’re jumping off the roof to take a little fly about. Oops! Maybe we’d like to take a Sunday drive and stop our car on the railroad tracks. Double oops! You can see why it’s important that we can not move during REM.
I never reached REM sleep until morning. I recall dreaming that I was sitting at the edge of wetlands. There was marsh grass and water at my feet. I was about to put my feet in the water, but I thought better of it, realizing that the murky water could be inhabited by water moccasins.
Then I started walking across a bridge. I heard a voice in my ears as if I was listening to a radio (probably inspired by Jack’s intercom) that warned of koalas in the area. It cautioned people not to be fooled by their adorable appearance because they were very dangerous animals and should be avoided. Suddenly an especially adorable koala latched on to my forearm. It was eying my hand. The voice in my ears said, “He’s youthful and he sees your arm as lunch.” I quickly jerked my arm as fast and forcefully as I could, and the koala went flying through the air, but….
I woke to a loud whack and felt pain in the knuckles of my fingers. I had slammed my hand into the headboard behind my head. The next morning Jack said he was looking down and writing something when he heard this startling noise. He quickly looked at the monitor and saw that I was rubbing my knuckles. He said I shouldn’t have been able to move. I said, “If a youthful kola was looking at your hand like it was a buttery croissant or a juicy eucalyptus branch, you’d jerk your arm, too.” He solemnly agreed.