Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a serious condition that is not well understood. It generally causes its sufferers to not be able to deal with life's daily issues as they are simply too tired. Moreover, it results in "Brain Fog" (cognitive deterioration) and / or poor memory, weakness of muscles, irritable bowel syndrome and a host of other problems. Those that are diagnosed with CFS often find that sleep is simply does not refresh them; no mater how much they sleep, hey still wake up feeling tired.
Sleep Apnea is a different issue that is occasionally relates to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. As you may know, there are five levels of sleep. The deepest level is called REM (for Rapid Eye Movement) and is dream sleep. Most people spend a quarter of heir time at level 5 sleep, which is refreshing and necessary. People who suffer from Sleep Apnea, for various reasons, literally choke in their sleep for a very short period of time. During this time, the brain detects the lack of Oxygen and brings back the person to a lower level of sleep. This can literally happen dozens of time every hour, resulting in very poor quality of sleep, and consequently, a never ending feeling of being tired.
Chronic Fatigue can explain a wide range of problems, and sleep apnea is just one of them.
One of the doctors I was sent to sent me to a sleep clinic. I have to say that this was much less pleasant than I thought it would be, trying to sleep with so many things hooked on to me, and being unable to go to a restroom without calling an aide to untie you. But I eventually managed to. They discovered I have "mild to moderate" sleep apnea.
Can this explain my chronic fatigue? Probably not, because I've had sleep apnea my entire life, and chronic fatigue for only for two years. However, any improvement in my sleep may result in a big improvement of my CFS. Makes sense, no?
Thus, I was sent to the sleep clinic for a second time, to try sleeping using a machine called CPAP (which stands for "Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure"). Sleeping with CPAP is a very strange feeling, as the machine constantly pushes air into your nose, basically keeping the air passages open. The idea is that it will prevent the choking that takes place, and the person could reach a deeper level of sleep. Some people have reported a almost miraculous improvement in their quality of life using a CPAP machine.
Unfortunately, I never got my results. I came to the clinic feeling ill, and simply was not able to fall asleep.Particularly with a machine stuck up my nose, and tens of wires hooked up to me. At 2am the technician and I gave up, and we decided to try it another time. My personal feeling is that the machine would have helped me sleep better, despite the fact it is generally uncomfortable (though it is said this is very easy to get used to).
I intend to go back and be tested again. But so far have not.
My conclusion: check with your doctor whether you may have sleep apnea. If he suspects you suffer from it, he'll send you to a sleep clinic. If you do have sleep apnea, you'll be tested with a CPAP machine, and if that proves effective, you'll be given one from your insurance provider (or so I am told). This could eliminate a large component if not the major component of what causes you to be chronically tired.