“Two years ago, I was working as a university professor and was the chairman of a large department in the College of Education,” says Elizabeth Bennett, a sleep study patient at the Piedmont Sleep Center. “I always felt exhausted, tired, drained [and] I never had energy. I thought the tiredness came from the lifestyle I was living.”
After she retired, Bennett still lacked energy and mentioned to her physician that her husband noticed she had trouble sleeping. Her doctor recommended she participate in a sleep study.
Dr. Scott Leibowitz, a sleep medicine expert at Piedmont, told Bennett she would have to wear electrodes during the study, but probably would not have to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
The CPAP device is often used to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and helps prevent respiratory events and snoring by pushing open the airway obstruction. It consists of a mask and hose attached to a machine.
The sleep study took place “in a nice room, just like a hotel room,” she says. “I went to sleep for an hour and a half. Then [the sleep study technician] came in and said, ‘We’re going to put a machine on you.’ This was after they told me [there would be] no machine, so I knew something was up.”
Bennett experiences instant sleep improvement
“I didn’t go back to sleep until 4 in the morning and they woke me up at 6,” Bennett says. “I realized that after those two hours I finally got to sleep, I felt better than I’d felt in years because I was sleeping with the CPAP machine.”
When Bennett met with Dr. Leibowitz 10 days later to discuss the results of the study, he told her that she stopped breathing about 16 to 20 times an hour during non-REM sleep. When it came to her REM sleep, she had stopped breathing 65 to 70 times an hour and her oxygen level went down to 60 percent.
He recommended that she wear the CPAP machine when sleeping.
“It really made sense to me,” she says. “No wonder I’ve felt so bad all these years, because during my sleep, I was basically not breathing.
“After I got the CPAP machine, my life changed drastically,” says Bennett. “I get up in the morning and am excited to be up. I feel great, like I’ve really rested. You really feel like you’re 20 or 30 years younger.”
Piedmont offers sleep medicine services at its Atlanta, Fayette, Henry, Mountainside and Newnan campuses.