Stephen Robinson used to wake up each morning exhausted. Afternoons at work would be a fight to stay awake, and he would fall asleep the moment he sat down at home. He lacked energy to exercise, and his weight suffered because of it.
“I used to sleep for eight hours and get up and feel like it was just a half-hour nap,” the Liberty Lake resident recalled.
Stephen’s wife, Jamara, would tell him about his restless nights.
“I would be asleep, but I would literally stop breathing, and it would wake her up and freak her out,” he said.
Finally, Stephen sought help and received a diagnosis of severe sleep apnea. Today, Stephen Robinson is an Ironman and an active family man, thanks to treatment that has only gotten easier since he began his journey of recovery.
Stephen noticed a “night and day difference” in his rest when he first began using a CPAP machine, and his holistic health improved dramatically. But the machine itself was a cumbersome addition to the travel he did for his job, not to mention the feelings of claustrophobia he endured.
Fortunately for Stephen, his family dentist was also the person guiding him through his sleep apnea journey: Dr. Erin Elliott of Post Falls Family Dental and Sleep Better Northwest.
“As soon as she had a CPAP device aside from the machines, she let me know about it,” he said.
At that time, Dr. Elliott outfitted Stephen with a dental appliance to help him transition off of the machines, and he hasn’t looked back. He said he enjoys the added freedom of talking and drinking water with the appliance in.
More than five years into his journey with the the dental appliance, Stephen recently retired his original appliance and transitioned to a new one, a simple process at Sleep Better Northwest. Even in this process, advances in technology made the experience a breeze. A hand-held video wand captured a complete digital impression of his teeth in order to customize the new appliance — with no more need to “bite down on disgusting molds” as in days gone by, he said. The new appliance was a perfect fit.
Stephen said every step of the way, the Sleep Better Northwest team has been there to answer his questions and provide support. In some cases — such as paying for the appliance — Stephen didn’t even have to be involved. As is common, Stephen’s treatment and appliance were covered by his medical insurance, and the experts at Sleep Better Northwest handled all of the associated billing paperwork.
As a regional pioneer in sleep treatments such as snoring, insomnia and sleep apnea, Sleep Better Northwest’s experienced team has been offering help to patients like Stephen for a decade. Stephen said he has personally benefitted from the care as well as the way Sleep Better Northwest has stayed on the edge of ever-improving technologies, making the great rest he is receiving even more convenient with the passage of time.
Reflecting on his own transformation, he has become a bit of an ambassador for people with stories like his, people wondering whether help is possible and accessible for their sleep-related symptoms.
“Dr. Elliott’s expertise and passion for sleep apnea and sleep apnea prevention is contagious,” he said. “I have referred many people I know to go and see her because of the outstanding care I received from Dr. Elliott and her team.”
NOTE: A version of this article first appeared in the 2020 Liberty Lake Yearbook.