“For so long, I never felt that I got enough sleep, and I became concerned when my wife told me that I often stopped breathing during the night,” says 78-year-old Joseph Paluga in a release.

At the recommendation of his physician, Paluga decided to have a sleep study at the Silver Cross Sleep Disorders Center located on the Silver Cross Hospital campus in Pavilion A at I-355 and Route 6 in New Lenox, Ill. Here, it was determined that he indeed had sleep apnea.

“Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep,” says Muhammed Lababidy, MD, board-certified sleep medicine, pulmonology, and critical care physician. “These breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.”

During Paluga’s sleep study, he had a high number of breathing pauses every hour. His initial treatment plan included using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to sleep at night along with a full sleeping mask. However, because he has a tendency to feel claustrophobic, the full mask was not a viable option. Instead, he now uses a CPAP machine with a humidifier and a mask that has two smaller pillows that gently fit in his nostrils.

While at the Silver Cross Sleep Disorders Center, Paluga spent the night in a private home-like room where he had his own bathroom, calming décor, and comfortable bed to help put him at ease. He spent the next 8 hours undergoing a polysomnographic test and a sleep study that provided a detailed picture of his entire sleep cycle. The study allowed technicians to analyze Paluga’s exact sleep pattern, from the onset of sleep through the four levels of sleep, to breathing, oxygen levels, heartbeat, movement, and snoring activity. It was then determined that he had sleep apnea and required a CPAP machine to help control his breathing while he sleeps.

“My experience at the Silver Cross Sleep Disorders Center was wonderful,” says Paluga. “The sleep technicians were so knowledgeable and friendly. They thoroughly explained each step of the test and answered all of my questions.”

Since treatment for his sleep apnea, Paluga enjoys restful nights of sleep and has more energy to enjoy his woodworking hobby.

“I would definitely recommend other people who aren’t sleeping well to get a sleep study because it will improve their lives,” says Paluga. “I am no longer sleepy during the day because of the almost 6 to 8 hours of sleep I get. Plus, my sinuses aren’t as stuffed up and I have more energy during the day.”

Photo: Joliet resident and sleep apnea patient Joseph Paluga and Nanette Fazio, RPSGT, at the Silver Cross Sleep Disorders Center.