'I could have killed a child'

Terry Gasking was diagnosed with sleep apnoea after a couple of terrifying incidents during which he feel asleep at the wheel. He tells us how he got through it.

I was driving along the A418 and I suddenly woke up and found myself going down the wrong side of the road. I must have fallen asleep at the wheel, even though I didnt feel particularly tired. Thankfully nothing was coming the other way, or I wouldnt be here today.

The second time was particularly frightening. I was driving past a village school and remember being fully alert, watching the children to make sure they didnt step into the road. The next moment, I was gone: Id fallen asleep, completely unaware. I woke up 50 yards away, about four feet from a brick wall. I could have killed a child.

The worst thing about snoring and sleep apnoea is that youve no idea its happening to you. You think youre sleeping for hours, but youre not youre only sleeping for very short spells. In my case, I was diagnosed as a moderate sufferer; I stopped breathing 28 times an hour. This means my average sleep period was just two minutes.

When you think sleep deprivation is a form of torture, you realise sleep apnoea sufferers experience torture every night, because theyre not getting enough sleep.

I tried every simple remedy I could lay my hands on nose clips, things to put up your nose and nothing worked. Then I tried CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). The sleep deprivation that Id suffered for 30 years went overnight. Suddenly, I was given the energy I had 20 years ago.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 8 Aug 2016