Wife’s attention to her husband’s breathing led to improved sleep treatment


Bob Redding, Galien, Michigan, would never have had another sleep study if the staff at Goshen Sleep Disorders Center had not allowed his wife Julie to accompany him to the appointment and stay there with him through the night. He had used a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for about 20 years. 
In fact, it was Julie, a retired nurse, who noticed something unusual when her husband had been hospitalized in 2019 and again in May 2021 for a heart problem. He seemed to be having serious breathing issues and frequent apnea. When she mentioned it to their doctor at the hospital, he wasn’t that concerned about it. When they saw their pulmonologist, he agreed they could do a titration study, which evaluates the effectiveness of the CPAP treatment and adjusts pressure to reduce the incidence of apnea.
After an hour, Jim Sowders, Sleep Technologist, said, “Wow, that is not working for him.” He made some adjustments and Bob spent the rest of the night at the sleep center.
“He slept the best he had in a long time,” said Julie. “He couldn’t wake up in the morning. Bob has had multiple sleep studies that all ended the same. This was the first one that was different. The staff at the sleep center were so considerate, helpful and accommodating. We so appreciated them.”
It is unusual for spouses to stay the night with patients at the center, but Richard Osborn, Supervisor at Goshen Sleep Disorders Center, said that there are situations where they can be flexible to best meet the needs of a patient – and to ensure the diagnostic tests can be completed. “Sometimes having family support during the admission interview, or during application of sensors, or just knowing they are present in the building during the night can make the difference between success or another failure,” Richard said.
“There are many different types of sleep studies,” Richard said. “And many people don’t realize that, like Bob, their individual treatment for apnea or other sleep disorders, may need adjusting over time. In this situation, it helped that Julie’s medical training allowed her to ask questions about her husband that led to the titration study.”
While some providers may favor routine retesting at some frequency, that is a minority view.  Symptomology and important changes in health and related indicators are generally the rule.  Some signs that a titration study may be needed include:

  • If symptoms return, worsen or you simply do not feel treatment is adequate (symptoms don’t go away). Examples include snoring while on therapy; gasping, choking or pauses in breathing while asleep; morning headaches; unexplainable mood swings, irritation or depression; or trouble with concentration or memory.

  • Despite seemingly successful and regular use of CPAP (or other device and mode of therapy), you’re still fatigued or sleepy.

  • You notice a clear change in tolerance of your therapy.

  • You experience a substantial weight change, loss or gain.

  • You have a change in cardiovascular or cardiac health or undergo related surgery (stroke, heart attack, heart failure, abnormal rhythms, implantation of stents or pacemaker/defibrillator, bypass, etc.).

  • You receive a new diagnosis or there’s a change in respiratory/pulmonary health (asthma, COPD, need of or change in the amount of supplemental oxygen therapy).

  • If your insurance provider requires one to continue receiving benefits, such as replacement of equipment or supplies.

Tip: Note and track your concerns for possible discussion with your healthcare provider, but first have your equipment provider check for possible malfunction. This includes examining your mask and headgear for need of replacement or refitting, perhaps with an alternative style or size.
Poor sleep can have a negative effect on our health, our moods and our energy – especially when it goes on for months. Talk to your doctor about how you’re sleeping and whether a sleep study may be able to help you.