Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder across the United States affecting Americans of any age. The potentially serious sleep disorder occurs when the upper airway becomes repeatedly blocked, causing several pauses in breathing while the patient is asleep.
Data from the American Sleep Apnea Association shows that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with about 80% of the cases being undiagnosed moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea. While some studies show that men are two to three times more likely to develop sleep apnea than women, underlying health risks, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle are also contributing factors to this condition.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
People with sleep apnea or any other sleeping disorder will mostly know they have symptoms of the disorder through their spouses, partners, or people noticing their symptoms. Some of these symptoms include loud snoring, and evident start-stops in breathing while dozing off. Some other signs you may experience if you have sleep apnea are dry mouth or sore throat in the morning, fatigue, mood swings, decreased focus and motor skills, uncontrolled daytime sleepiness, etc.
Popular Celebrities with Sleep Apnea
Chances are, you personally know at least one person within your social circle who has this condition. Famous people are no exception either. Unsurprisingly, many famous people also struggle with sleep. While some have been very vocal about it, others also had the disorder undiagnosed and eventually untreated.
From basketball legend Shaquille O’ Neal to the late Carrie Fisher, here are 10 famous people who have or had sleep apnea, and how they are managing or were able to handle their condition.
1. Amy Poehler
The Saturday Night Live alum was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea after finding herself exhausted from juggling her work and being a new mom.
In her memoir Yes Please, the Emmy-nominated comedian detailed her complicated relationship with sleep or rather the lack of it. She recalled being sleep-deprived while working on her hit sitcom Parks and Recreation just 3 months after giving birth to her first child. She also narrated trying to catch up on snooze during the day or even in airplanes while traveling, which in no way was an alternative to proper REM sleep.
When she turned 40, she finally decided to go to a sleep center, and seek professional and medical help. She was introduced to a CPAP machine to allow her to sleep better at night. She admitted to having a hard time adjusting to sleep using the machine. But she likened it to vegetables, saying it doesn’t taste good, but she knows she needs it to improve her condition.
2. Rosie O’Donnell
From one comedian to another, Rosie O’Donnell was also diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. On the morning talk show The View, O’Donnell said her sleep test readings revealed that she had some 200 apneic episodes a night, which alarmed her.
Making things worse, the actress suffered a heart attack in 2007, which prompted her to visit a sleep clinic. Her first night on a CPAP machine granted her a good night’s sleep and she has been religiously using it to treat her sleeping disorder.
She has since been raising awareness for people leaving their issues with sleep, regardless if they’re undiagnosed or untreated. The daytime talk show host even demonstrated how to use a CPAP machine, (and in some cases may have also demonstrated how to clean it using a CPAP cleaner), and willingly discussed her diagnosis and treatment so people will not be uncomfortable to confront their slumber issues
3. Shaquille O’ Neal
It took Shaquille O’ Neal’s then-girlfriend for him to seek medical help regarding his sleep issues. His former beau brought the attention of his snoring and restlessness while sleeping. This prompted the retired athlete to undergo a sleep study at Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine.
He was diagnosed with a moderate form of obstructive sleep apnea and underwent CPAP therapy via the machine. Shaq claimed that he has noticed an immediate effect following the therapy.
The four-time NBA champ went on to use his reach and fame to help raise awareness for sleep apnea through a campaign called “Shaq Attacks Sleep Apnea.” He promoted and encouraged people with sleep issues to seek treatment for their sleep disorders. He even produced a video, in association with the Harvard Medical School, about his sleep apnea. In that video, he explained how he manages his condition using a CPAP machine.
4. Adam Savage
The MythBusters co-host also found himself dealing with obstructive sleep apnea. Aside from using a CPAP machine, he also went on to lose 30 pounds, as research proves that excess weight and obesity may also contribute to this condition.
Savage has been very open about the positive effects of CPAP therapy, as well as switching to a healthier lifestyle, to his overall health. Savage is now experiencing normal sleeping patterns because of consistent CPAP therapy.
5. Arianna Huffington
Known as the founder and editor of The Huffington Post, Ariana admits to being sucked into the “sleep crisis” — where one opts to sacrifice sleep at the expense of social activities (and sadly, work). Sleep deprivation led Huffington to collapse from exhaustion sometime in 2007 and led her to seek clinical help.
On her platform, the Thrive Global CEO shared a conversation she had with Dr. Richard Schwab, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wherein the medical expert detailed his research in using innovative imaging techniques to study the development of sleep apnea.
Ariana is active on a mission to inform people of the risks of sleep deprivation, which ultimately leads to sleeping disorders. She is continuously educating people on the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and keeps reminding people, especially children, to never sleep with their smartphones next to them. It is found out that the blue light in phone screens sends signals to our brain to wake up, which may affect the quality of our sleep.
6. Reggie White
The football player is a tragic case of sleep apnea left untreated. White started experiencing complications with sleep apnea 15 years into his NFL career. Other medical conditions also started to exhibit, primarily linked to the sleeping disorder.
White died in 2004 at the age of 43 from a cardiac arrhythmia, which many concluded to be caused by his untreated sleep apnea. His CPAP machine was found at his bedside, unused. White’s foundation, led by his wife, continues to help those in need to manage the condition and provide CPAP machines to those that cannot afford it.
7. Ryan Jensen
Jensen might have taken Reggie White’s case as a warning and had himself checked in a sleep clinic as soon as he noticed symptoms of sleep apnea.
In 2014, the NFL linebacker started to notice his extreme exhaustion during practice. At the same time, he was losing weight and muscle mass at an alarming rate. Jensen soon decided to participate in a sleep study where he discovered he has sleep apnea.
He has since been using a device to treat his sleeping disorder and noticed improvements in his sleeping habits. Jensen has been publicly vocal that the use of the CPAP machine has saved his life and his career.
8. Randy Jackson
The former American Idol judge and music producer was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and was subsequently diagnosed with sleep apnea. Jackson has been open about his battle with his conditions and has committed to a healthier lifestyle as part of the treatment.
Jackson has gone through a gastric bypass and lost weight as obesity is a key moderator of the effect of sleep apnea on type-2 diabetes. Studies also reveal that 40% of men with this type of diabetes also suffer from sleep apnea. He takes regular CPAP treatments to manage his sleep disorder.
9. Shonda Rhimes
As someone who has been working as an executive producer of the long-running medical show Grey’s Anatomy, you’d think Shonda Rhimes would have learned a few things about sleep disorders, but being pulled in multiple directions with obligations led her to lose sleep and gain excess weight.
In her book The Year of Yes, the writer and producer recounted her philosophy about work, which equated to working long hours and neglecting sleep in the process. She found herself stress eating, and often eating poorly. Her unhealthy habits led her to develop joint pains and chronic fatigue. It was around this time that she discovered she had sleep apnea.
After she decided to turn over a new leaf, Shonda committed to a healthier and a more positive lifestyle. She lost 125 pounds and decided to say yes to things that make her happy and give her optimistic mental wellbeing. She detailed that when she found things that made her happy outside of work, things started looking better for her. Slowly, her sleep apnea lessened with a healthier lifestyle and continuous treatment.
10. Carrie Fisher
Sadly, the actress who breathed life to the iconic character of Princess Leia in the famed Star Wars franchise was a victim that fell prey to the dangers linked to sleep apnea. Fisher, who has been outspokenly shedding light on her issues with mental health illness and drug abuse, did not talk much about her sleep apnea.
In 2016, the 60-year old succumbed to a sudden cardiac arrest a few days after experiencing a medical emergency while in flight. The American Sleep Apnea Associate said it was unclear whether Fisher has been diagnosed with or was actively treating her sleep apnea before she passed away.
Fisher’s case speaks the importance of visiting a sleep doctor when you have trouble sleeping. A consultation with a doctor about your condition can help you get the treatment you need before greater health risks occur.
CPAP Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
CPAP therapy is the gold standard when it comes to treating obstructive sleep apnea. However, CPAP machines don’t come cheap, which is also why it’s essential for sleep apnea patients to properly maintain, clean, and take care of their equipment. Keeping your CPAP machine clean before each use may also help prevent health complications and health risks that dirt, germs, bacteria, and the virus may cause.
The good thing is, you can clean your CPAP machines using a high-quality CPAP machine cleaner. This cleaning option provides twice the cleaning efficiency of using just soap and water. For instance, our CPAP cleaner here at CleanFlash® uses both UV light and ozone that are proven to kill bacteria up to 99.99%.
Be sure to consult your doctor before starting CPAP therapy or any other treatment option for sleep apnea. Also, ask for recommendations about the best CPAP machine brands, and do your research as well by comparing brands and checking for reviews, to be able to find which machine suits your condition best.
If left untreated or undiagnosed, sleep apnea can lead to serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Sleep centers and sleep clinics are encouraging people to have their sleep health checked to detect this sleep disorder early and prevent greater health risks that it may cause.
Meanwhile, if you already have a CPAP machine and you’re interested in availing of the CleanFlash® CPAP cleaner but would like to clarify or ask some things first, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by filling out our inquiry form. You may also learn more about CPAP cleaning, how it works, and the science behind it by reading this article.
Have a great day ahead!
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