Struggling Sleeper Finds Answers Through Sanford Sleep Study

Bob Nelson stopped breathing 38 times an hour in his sleep before being diagnosed with sleep apnea

FARGO, N.D.– “From only sleeping 50 minutes a night, I mean I was so tired,” former Sanford Health sleep patient Bob Nelson said.

Before his sleep disorder was diagnosed, Bob Nelson stopped breathing 38 times an hour in his sleep.

Bob says he was sleeping less than one hour per night.

“I mean I was so tired anytime I could possibly try to catch some sleep I was,” Nelson said. “I mean it was everything from having my wife drive the car on longer trips so I could rest.”

While being treated for congestive heart failure, he was referred to a sleep study through Sanford Health.

It was during his sleep study in December of 2018 when doctors diagnosed Bob with sleep apnea.

“When you’re used to sleeping 50 minutes and I got four hours of sleep that night because they put the machine on me because my oxygen got so low during the study,” Nelson said. “I mean I felt a whole lot better just the next morning.”

Bob now uses a CPAP machine each night.

He says you just need to put your mind to it and wear the mask while you sleep.

“If it’s going to make you feel better, you just have to do it,” Nelson said.

Bob now gets between seven and eight hours of sleep a night and does not even think of going to bed without it.

“More energy,” Nelson said. “I wake up refreshed. It has lowered my blood pressure in my case, twenty to twenty five points because I’m resting and my body can rest.”

Treating sleep apnea is nothing new for a Sanford sleep specialist.

Dr. Samy Karaz says it is one of the most common sleep disorders he sees.

“Early on, we thought that people who have apnea, who quit breathing at night and drop the blood oxygen, of course would harm the heart and we found out that’s true,” Sanford sleep specialist Dr. Samy Karaz said. “It causes problems with high blood pressure. It causes future problems with heart attacks and heart failures. I don’t think there is any function of the body that is not affected by poor sleep.”

It usually takes sleep technicians between 45 minutes and an hour to set someone up.

By the end, they are covered head to toe with around 25 sensors.

The sensors are attached to areas on the head and body.

This allows doctors to monitor sleep stages, oxygen levels and any type of movement.

This is how they were able to identify Bob’s sleep apnea, and ultimately change his life.

“When you can sleep and you rest all night, I wake up in the morning and now I’m ready to go,” Nelson said.

It wasn’t just his life it changed. It changed his wife’s as well.

“There was quite often a poke in the ribs saying hey you’re not breathing, I don’t hear you breathing,” Nelson said. “So, they’re not sleeping 100% either.”

“Every day I see patients who come in and their spouse would say, he stops breathing or she stops breathing at night,” Dr. Karaz said. “They snore loud, they quit breathing and they gasp for air.”

By identifying his sleep apnea and changing what used to be a major source of stress, they are now able to live a better life.

“Now, I have more energy,” Nelson said. “We go to things and catch all of the grandkids sports things we can because now we have enough energy to go and do that.”

Aside from obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Karaz often sees insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness in patients.

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