According to an article published in the Baltimore Sun, former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Ryan Jensen was recently diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, and has begun undergoing treatment for this disorder.
The source reports that the Ravens released Jensen, their sixth-round draft pick from 2013, over the weekend as a result of his preseason performance – which was likely affected by the untreated sleep apnea.
In an interview with the news outlet, Jensen said that he underwent a sleep study, during which he had about 90 breathing episodes and woke up almost 28 times each hour. All in all, he was only getting about two or three hours of sleep per night.
"I would get eight hours of sleep and I would feel like I didn't get any sleep,” Jensen explained. “It got to the point where I was walking around like a zombie. I didn't have that same fire because of my lack of sleep. It affected me. I'm just glad I got it figured out. I got diagnosed and got treated for it. The Ravens were understanding about it when we talked about it."
Fortunately, after beginning treatment for his sleep apnea, Jensen says he’s starting to feel better – and that he hopes to resume his NFL career.
Jensen isn’t the only athlete who has suffered the effects of sleep apnea. Due to their large body masses and neck sizes, athletes are at high risk of having this potentially dangerous sleep disorder.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White died in 2004 from heart complications that medical examiners determined were likely the result of sleep apnea. Jensen referenced White in the interview with the Sun, stating that “[sleep apnea is] a dangerous thing if you don't get diagnosed."
There are other athletes, however, who been diagnosed with sleep apnea and seen positive results from CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. A few months ago, we wrote an article about Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin and retired basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, who have both sleep apnea and have reported feeling much better thanks to CPAP therapy.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, weight gain and other dangerous health complications, so if you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of this disorder, it’s important that you consult a doctor as soon as possible.