His grandfather died in his sleep in 1988. Since he had reached a blessed age of 82 years, his death did not raise any questions back then. However, one must know that the deceased had complained for decades that he “he can’t breathe at night” and had the feeling of suffocation. He told the same story over and over again – namely that he was lying in bed and the ceiling of the room fell down on him and he suffocated under the rubble. His family and friends misjudged the stories simply as “nightmares” and the doctors did not believe him. They thought he was very healthy, after all his daytime respiratory performance was excellent.
Looking back on this case with today’s medical knowledge, one wonders very quickly how one could not think of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) back then! The answer is as simple as it is sad – because this disease was not sufficiently known at the time. Grandfather died because nobody thought about OSA. Not the doctor, not the man’s environment. Fortunately, the situation today is different. Almost every doctor has OSA on his radar and no prudent doctor today would carelessly ignore descriptions like those of the old man.
But the patient has to see a doctor first! And on this point, unfortunately, the situation today is not yet really different from that back in 1988: The general public still knows little or nothing about sleep-related diseases and the consequences of unhealthy sleep. And it is the personal circle, relatives or acquaintances, which sends people with nocturnal breathing problems or sleep disorders to the doctor for the first time. And for them to do that, they need to know. And for educating people, we founded the ESSH!
We want to bring sleep health into the public eye. We want to raise awareness of this important topic. And because diseases do not stop at national borders, we do not want to stop at national borders with our educational efforts. We are promoting the issue throughout Europe. We are convinced that the topic is “too big for a single country”. This concerns the issue of awareness, it concerns research funding, it concerns quality standards. Health problems occur equally throughout Europe. That is why we are bundling our efforts throughout Europe.
ESSH is a non-profit association which pursues a truly interdisciplinary approach. This means that we are involved in numerous scientific disciplines and the voice of each individual is important to us. Besides physicians, also engineers (fluid physicists) and social scientists are active for our association. After all, sleep-related diseases cannot be explained and solved with medical knowledge alone. In addition, it is very important to us to combine basic scientific work with practical experience. That is why among our members are also numerous patients, their relatives and people interested in sleep health in general.
Mr. Wakonig has been promoting research and development on sleep health for over 10 years. He regularly publishes articles on sleep health and snoring. He promotes and coordinates several research projects with universities in these fields and also gives lectures and seminars on consumer health topics. In addition, Mr. Wakonig has been developing sleep health solutions for over 10 years through his own medical technology company. Mr Wakonig is responsible at ESSH for identifying new topics and innovations in the field of sleep health and presenting them to the general public.