Good sleep became elusive. Island Health found a solution.

By day, Guemes Island resident Tim Wittman is a psychologist with the Burlington-Edison School District. But often by night and weekends, he’s part of Cannery Underground, a popular local folk duo that sets some of this region’s maritime folklore and yarns to music.

Wittman’s life was full with his day job, writing and performing his music and distance running, but a good night’s sleep was getting rarer and his energy levels were dropping.

“I hadn’t been sleeping well for several years, but when it began to affect my work, music, running and, according to my wife, my disposition, I asked my primary-care physician, Dr. Mark Backman (Fidalgo Medical Associates, Anacortes), if a sleep study was appropriate.”

Wittman made an appointment for an overnight session at the Island Health Sleep Wellness Center where staff recorded his sleep patterns and monitored his brain waves, heart rate and oxygen levels. Their study showed that Wittman awakened momentarily more than 44 times an hour during sleep and his oxygen levels dropped to 69%.

Diagnosed with sleep apnea — a condition in which constant interruptions of sleep cause sufferers to wake feeling unrested – Wittman was fitted with a sleep mask to help him breathe more easily. He was amazed when the quality of his sleep improved dramatically.

“I had tried a mask years ago, but it was uncomfortable and I didn’t wear it long,” he said. “What a difference small advances in technology can make. The new sleep mask fits perfectly and that makes all the difference. I sleep through the night and wake up feeling energized and refreshed. It’s a bit like matching the right lyrics to the right music.”

Island Sleep Wellness Center is located at 1110 22nd St., Anacortes. For information and appointments call 360.299.8676.

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