One morning fifteen years ago, I woke up choking. Days later I dreamt I was drowning and woke up gasping for air. After that, I occasionally would wake up deprived from the respiratory reflex: I had to make a voluntary effort in order to breathe.
The doctor diagnosed me with Non Obstructive Sleep Apnea (NOSA) or "Central Sleep Apnea" because it is believed to be a symptom of an incurable disease that affects the Central Nervous System. Remedies? None. Only one recommendation: to connect to a CPAP, a machine meant to help you breath while you sleep.
After studying the CPAP, I came to the conclusion that connecting to one of them every night for the rest of my Life, was just as terrifying as being diagnosed to have a malfunction in my Central Nervous System.
Around the same time, one of my friends' Father also began to suffer from Central Apnea and began to use a CPAP. I resolved not to use it. Instead, I decided to observe my disease and register the attacks in the hopes of finding a correlation with other factors like exhaustion, nutrition or stress.
The first thing I observed was that usually the Apnea arose after a few hours of sleep. Then, once it had begun, it continued to appear with a frequency that increased, until sleep got disrupted every 15 to 20 minutes. Clearly, the human organism is more rested after few hours of sleep than it is immediately upon falling asleep. If the problem was a "Central" one, then, shouldn't it attack when one is exhausted as opposed to after hours of rest? Also, if it were Central, it would attack at any time and not on measurable spans. My conclusion: it is not a central disease. I figured that if it attacks after a few hours of sleep, perhaps it is related to a nutrient that may be wearing off.
I looked for a correlation between what I was eating and the Sleep Apnea crises, but I could not find one, yet. It was a tangent that brought me to salt. Reading about nutrition and the kidney polycystic disease, which I also happen to suffer from, I noticed that this disease is also known in English as the "salt consuming disease" as it induces the body to excessively eliminate salt. I made the connection, and that same night I ate a little bit of salt before going to sleep. As I anticipated I immediately got great results.
Basically, if I eat enough salt during the day -or a little bit before going to sleep- I can rest all night long and not suffer from an apnea crisis at all. Likewise, if I consume a low sodium diet during a day, that same night I would stop breathing.
When I called my friend to tell her what I had discovered, I found out her dad had passed away. He had fallen in a deep depression caused by the repetitive harm of connecting to the CPAP every night. In all, this machine had made him loose the will to live.
This sad event made me look further into the role of sodium in the human organism. Turns out it is indispensable: the membrane of every muscular or nervous cell has a protein that allows for sodium to enter the cell, as potassium exits the cell. That process, which absolutely needs sodium, is responsible for the feeding of the cell as well as of the capacity of the cell for storing energy and to perceive and transmit electric signals. This means that low sodium in blood certainly may constitute a critical condition. "Sodium Potassium Pump" (SPP), is the name Doctor Jens Skou gave to this protein present in each muscular and nervous cell in our body. He did it in the 50's, yet was awarded with a Nobel price for medicine many, many years later in 2007.
It is then easy to imagine that without sufficient sodium in the blood and thus with low muscular efficiency and impaired communication between cells, individuals might tend not to breath while unconscious.
Doctors today agree that some illness and symptoms derive from lack of sodium in the blood, such as "Stupor" a very serious one, and "Restless Legs Syndrome" a more inoffensive one. But there is no mention of how low sodium can affect your sleep.
Sleep deprivation derived from Sleep Apnea is also an immensely risky social disease. It can cause accidents at work and endanger the lives of others. Airplane pilots or subway, bus and truck drivers driving on the highway who suffer from NOSA tend to fall asleep. Many of them probably hide their condition in fear of losing their job.
NOSA patients can stop breathing when they get anesthetized an even sedated and should be required to wear a tag to alert the doctors about their disease. There also should be a device that instantaneously measures the level of sodium in the blood just as there is one for glucose levels.
To give an account of my observations, most of which are not included in this short article, I wrote a book called "Sleep Apnea, Immediate cure for an illness with "no cure"". Even though all the information needed is accessible for free at the website, patients still buy my book every month there or via kindle.
I believe we need to re-evaluate one of the most accepted paradigms -do not eat salt-, as well as to take a closer look at a powerful and omnipresent CPAP industry.
At this stage, there is a need for further medical research to confirm these findings and to make them known, so that millions of NOSA patients may learn the way out of their torture.
As patients, we have the responsibility to observe our bodies and share our findings, let them be known so that paradigms can be shifted and abusive market dominant positions undermined.