I visited a certified sleep center in New York City, where my new doctor, Omar Burschtin, MD, looked into my mouth and told me I have a “floppy palate,” which can cause snoring. My wife had written down a description of my nighttime noises ahead of time, because she knew I wouldn't be able to explain them myself. Here's what she wrote: "When you are asleep and lying on your back, sometimes you make a loud snoring noise that tapers off to a quieter snoring noise (with shorter inhales) with subsequent breaths. Eventually, you seem like you are barely breathing in any air at all, your breaths are so short. Then you make a quick snorting noise (maybe to get air) that seems to wake you a little because it makes you shift positions."
The day of the study, I felt anxious about sleeping in front of a video camera, but I showed up for my 10 p.m. appointment, answered a sleep-habit questionnaire, and entered my room. It looked like a simple three-star hotel room, minus the TV and clock. “We wanted to reproduce normal life as much as possible,” Dr. Burschtin told me. The video camera aimed at the bed reminded me I wasn't at the Hilton.
Once my test results came back the following week, Dr. Burschtin told me that my sleep study showed intermittent sleep apnea and teeth grinding. To demonstrate, he turned on my audio, and I heard the familiar sound of my father snoring in the living room. Was that really me? My charts showed that my breathing plateaued before I snored, which led to awakenings. I saw on the video that I stirred for a few seconds, which meant that I wasn't getting a completely restful night. I wasn't really surprisedit confirmed what my wife had been telling mebut it was worse than I'd expected, and I felt bad for waking her up so often!