This story comes from an interview with Kevin Kruse, a leader of the e-Patient Connections conference. At this year’s conference, Kevin talked about his CPAP use and presented his sleep data on stage with Ben@Zeo.
My story of sleep apnea is the unfortunate but classic self-diagnosis case. All through my twenties I was constantly exhausted, and finally around age 30 I went to a doctor to ask about it; he told me everyone's exhausted and literally threw me out of his office. This cycle repeated itself over the next ten years with few results
Kevin Kruse (right) and Ben Rubin presenting at ePatient Connections 2010
What changed everything was that I started working on some medical education projects related to sleep medicine and, as a result, learned about sleep apnea. It was like a light bulb went off: "Oh, so this is why I choke myself awake at night!" I saw a new doctor, explained the fatigue and night-time breathing problems, and asked for a sleep study. He agreed and the results confirmed that I have intermediate to severe sleep apnea and I got a CPAP.
Self-Tracking is a path to Self-Knowledge
I was really excited to start using the Zeo, partly because I wanted to see the difference that the CPAP machine made on REM and Deep sleep. Like a lot CPAP users, my compliance isn't great. I know all the health reasons why I should use it, but it's just a pain in the butt and I often don't put it on. So I was curious to see how my sleep data changed with and without the CPAP.
To my surprise, I didn't see much of a difference in Deep sleep with the CPAP. Even with 8 hours of sleep I only get about 15 minutes of Deep and I still feel exhausted.
This is part of why my compliance with CPAP isn't great; unlike other CPAP users I know, I don't feel rested or better when I use it.
At first, I was really puzzled by this, but I was also using the Zeo website to track other sleep habits. It pointed out to me that I'm always on caffeine, which is true.
Because I'm tired all the time, I'm a big coffee drinker even at night. I didn't think it was a problem, since I can always fall asleep immediately, but that caffeine could be interfering with my ability to get Deep sleep even when I'm on CPAP. So now I'm in the process of weaning myself off caffeine and I'm using the Zeo to see if I can get my Deep sleep up while staying on CPAP.
Your Body Revolts when you Skimp on Sleep
In 2009 I launch the e-Patient Connections conference--the first time I've ever done a conference before--and it was tons of work, full of mistakes and the usual "start up"experience.
While I worked my butt off to focus on the details, what went out the window was exercise, healthy eating, and sleep.
I spent a year working like a lunatic to make sure a 2-day event would be great and by the time it arrived, I had literally made myself sick. I looked like crap, felt like crap, and was loosing my voice. I sipped hot honey-water for two days and killed my vocal chords to get through it.
So for 2010 I made a promise to myself that I'd work my butt off, but not at the expense of my health. I really do believe we need to have more of a "corporate athlete" mentality; to focus as much on energy management as we do on time management. For a couple months before the conference I ate clean 6 days a week, hit most of my workouts, and used Zeo to make sure I was getting a decent ZQ.
It made a world of difference; I dropped ten pounds and felt good and focused. E-patient Connections is all about the "connections" and this year I had the energy to really get around and socialize during the event and hit all the stuff at night.
You and your doctor are in this together
I think we're just at the beginning of the technology adoption curve when it comes to personal biometric devices--both in terms of people using them, and of doctors being receptive to the data. It's currently the "innovators" who are sharing their DNA test results from 23andMe, or their sleep data from Zeo.
As with the broader e-patient movement, those who are faced with more acute or serious conditions are more likely to have the motivation to take action and embrace what personal biometric devices can do. Hopefully as the devices become more common and the benefits become more obvious, we'll see broader usage in the general population.
Kevin Kruse, is the founder and President of Kru Research, as well as an analyst, researcher and author in the areas of innovative health education, instructional design and behavior change. PharmaVoice magazine named him as one of the "Top 100 Most Inspiring People in the Life Science Industry."