Sleep Apnea: A New Mind/Body Solution

By: Damaris Drewry, Ph.D. Psychology


How many people do you know that have sleep apnea? This condition can be life-threatening, and certainly is not conducive to keeping your partner in the same bed or even the same room! Sleep apnea is considered “incurable”, and the surgical treatments are barbaric and not guaranteed to work!  Jaw devices used to force the airway open often cause problems like TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint syndrome).


The word “apnea” means “without breath” and there are two types: (1) obstructive apnea occurs when soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses during sleep and interrupts breathing, and (2) central nervous system (CNS) apnea occurs when the airway is open but the CNS fails to signal the body to breathe continuously. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing many times during the night, usually snore, and wake up exhausted. They may not be aware they are having episodes – it’s possible to sleep through them.


For some people forced to use the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to keep their airway open and enable sleep, there may be an end to the frustration and discomfort.



For four years I have been helping clients eliminate sleep apnea symptoms by resolving past traumatic events (often deemed unimportant) related to breathing and consciousness. I am now establishing a protocol, and have found that (1) the onset of sleep apnea can be triggered by a highly stressful emotional event like divorce or financial crisis; (2) and/or the individual had a near-drowning or another type of near-death experience; and/or (3) the individual was accidentally knocked unconscious or was anesthetized against his/her will.


National Institute of Health –


“The goals of treating obstructive sleep apnea are to: Restore regular breathing during sleep; relieve symptoms such as loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Treatment may help other medical problems such as high blood pressure. Treatment also can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Types of Treatment: currently, there are no medicines to treat sleep apnea; lifestyle changes and/or mouthpieces may be enough to relieve mild sleep apnea; people who have moderate or severe sleep apnea also will need breathing devices (CPAP) or surgery.”


Mayo Clinic –


Regarding treatment: “For milder cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking; certain devices (the lower jaw is moved forward from the remainder of your face bones) can help open up a blocked airway. In other cases a CPAP is recommended. Surgery: your doctor removes tissue from the rear of your mouth and top of your throat. Your tonsils and adenoids usually are removed.”



In 25 years of creating successful alternatives to traditional psychotherapy, about 85% of my clients have had problems root causes in traumatic events. The operative principle is that our bodies believe every word we say and record our history in every cell; and decisions made during traumatic events create “programs” that start running on the body’s bioelectric “computer hard drive” and keep running “in the background” until consciously stopped and erased. These subconscious programs cause repeating dysfunctional relationship patterns and physical illness. Clearing the emotional charge from traumatic events, and reframing the decisions made during those events “defragments the body’s bio-computer” and results are immediate!  Order returns to the body/mind/spirit corporation. This is accomplished by connecting the dots between present physical/emotional/spiritual issues and the decisions made during previous traumatic events; and then using Emotional Freedom Technique (a.k.a. tapping) to access the nervous system via the acupuncture meridians and using precise languaging to reframe the original decision that shows up as obvious physical symptoms.


The key is that during the instant when the traumatic event and its associated physical and emotional “settings” are all recorded in the brain and body, decisions are made about self-worth, safety in the world, etc.  This is true of any kind of childhood trauma and it sets the stage for repeating patterns and future onset of disease. So reframing the decisions that are made during trauma is key to resolving the trauma.


If you think about a traumatic event and still have a highly-charged emotional response to it, that event is still locked in your body and affecting your life.




Steve’s Story

Background: Steve had sleep apnea for 38+ years (as of June 2009) and for 15 years had used a CPAP machine which he described as “distressingly claustrophobic but better than suffocating”. With the CPAP the most uninterrupted sleep he got was 90 minutes. After his diagnostic sleep study Steve was told that his obstructive apnea was so severe that last-resort surgery would not help. His apnea turned out to be the CNS type even though he was overweight.


The pivotal event in Steve’s life was a near-drowning at age six; he had an unhappy childhood as the youngest of six, and his despair was reinforced when none of his siblings or lifeguards noticed he was drowning.


Three days after the first session Steve said: “After the session I didn’t put the CPAP machine on and I slept for 4 uninterrupted hours!” Six days after the session he said:  “I slept all night without the mask!”  It took two more sessions to resolve the insomnia patterns he had developed over the years.  (see Steve’s video at



Four critical emotional and physical “settings” are recorded in the body during the seconds or minutes it takes for a trauma to happen. Examples are being in or witnessing a car accident, a surgery involving anesthetic, or childhood abuse: (1)  there is a shock to the body’s electrical system (acupuncture meridians); (2) every detail we see, hear, feel, smell & taste is instantly recorded in the brain and every cell of the body via neurotransmitters; (3)  the body’s high level of adrenaline caused by the fight-or-flight response is imprinted in the nervous system; and (4) the decisions we make about our own ability to escape a threat (or not) are also freeze-framed along with the physical responses. In other words, every aspect of a traumatic event and our mind/body/emotional response to it is freeze-framed and stored on the hard-drive of the body’s biocomputer and keeps on running until we stop the program and erase it along with the cues and memories that trigger the re-living of the experience! If you think about a traumatic event and still have a highly-charged emotional response to it, that event is still locked in your body and affecting your life. For example, if a person fails to successfully escape from a threat (an abusive parent) a program begins to run in the subconscious mind that can cause the person to re-enact the trauma by choosing a marriage partner who treats them the same way the abusive parent did – that person is trying to arrange a scenario that is similar so he/she can successfully escape the threat to the physical body and to self-esteem.


The key is that during the instant when the traumatic event and its associated physical and emotional “settings” are all recorded in the brain and body, decisions are made about self-worth, safety in the world, etc.  This is true of any kind of childhood  trauma and it sets the stage for repeating patterns and future onset of disease.  So reframing the decisions that are made during trauma is key to resolving the trauma. There is a huge body of scientific research that proves that every cell in the body is intelligent and that our entire reality can be instantly altered by our intent/thoughts (Drs. Candace Pert and Bruce Lipton and many more). We know that it’s not an event that runs our lives, it’s the meaning we give to it. Emotional Freedom Technique provides a tool for reframing how we feel about a past event that robbed us of personal power.



Developed by Gary Craig in 1995, EFT (a.k.a. Tapping) falls under the umbrella of Energy Psychology which addresses the relationship of the human energy systems (one of which is acupuncture meridians) to emotion, perception (how we make sense of our world), behavior, and health. Energy Psychology modalities facilitate a mind/body connection by engaging the body’s own wisdom and intelligence to resolve emotional causes of dis-ease. EFT works by interrupting the way thoughts and emotions are chemically recorded in the body while you are finger-tapping on acupuncture meridians and speaking about perceptions of a traumatic event. EFT and other Energy Psychology modalities, while effective, are still considered experimental and not yet approved by the American Psychology Association. I have used EFT with every client for 12 years and achieved consistently positive results.


When you are thinking about a trauma while you are finger-tapping on acupuncture meridians and using precise wording to correct your perceptions of yourself during the event – the memory is instantly changed! Tiny electric signals go from your fingers through your acupuncture meridians straight to the areas of memory storage, the chemical structure of the memory changes, and you immediately feel differently about a past event.



Very simply stated: we see that trauma “settings” are recorded in the nervous system – if a person is rendered unconscious or nearly unconscious during a traumatic event and later develops sleep apnea, there is a mind/body linkage that can be broken by “talking” to the unconscious mind that runs the body and reminding it that the trauma is no longer happening and it is safe to erase the survival program that is interrupting sleep. On June 21st and again on June 27th Dr. Drewry will offer a free talk on sleep apnea at Blue Ridge College. For more information and a calendar of summer and fall events, see  Email:


Disclaimer:  Dr. Drewry does not diagnose or treat any DSM-IV disorders including PTSD. She teaches clients how to resolve their own symptoms of sleep apnea.


To become part of the sleep apnea research study contact Dr. Drewry.



Sleep Apnea workshop Tuesday July 10 from 7-9 pm at Crystal Visions Bookstore in Fletcher.



Dr. Damaris Drewry (Ph.D. Psychology)  offers new insights for sleep apnea sufferers who may be able to rid themselves of symptoms and the CPAP machine.  If you have ever been unconscious for surgery, childhood tonsillectomy, or had a near-drowning or ANY other event that rendered you unconscious (i.e. blue baby at birth) there is solid possibility you can benefit from this information.  Dr. Drewry specializes in the resolution of traumatic events and eliminating emotional causes of physical disease and has been a speaker/workshop presenter for ISSSEEM, ACEP, IONS and other national organizations that support energetic medicine. For more information watch her YouTube videos or go to


Article copyright 2012 Damaris Drewry

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker