It has now been one year since I started using the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine and mask. The CPAP method is used to help people with sleep apnea. The machine forces the airway to remain open so that a person can breathe when they sleep at night. When I went for my sleep study, the results were that I had 90 events per hour where I wasn’t breathing. Since I have been using the CPAP machine I am averaging about two events per hour. That’s quite an improvement but I can’t honestly say that I have noticed any difference otherwise.
I heard some folks say that they feel more rested and feel like they have gotten the best sleep of their lives. I have not felt that way. The only difference is that I do not experience headaches that I used to have. I do have an occasional issue with other side effects.
If you are considering this method of treatment, here are some things I would suggest:
Get a good doctor. Having a good doctor that understands your specific symptoms and side effects are very important. I started with one doctor but changed to another when they didn’t take my issues seriously. In fact, after the first night with the mask, they were upset that I woke up with a terrible sinus headache. They almost took it personally that I didn’t wake up feeling like I had the best sleep of my life.
Get the right machine. If you are a mouth breather or nose breather you need to get the right machine and mask for your sleeping habits. I went through a few styles before I settled on the one best for me.
Be patient. Using the mask takes some adjusting. It isn’t natural to put something over your face that is blowing air into your mouth or nose. I felt very claustrophobic at first. In fact, I hated it. It took about four months for me to adjust to it. Now, I am not aware of the air unless I take off the mask.
Noisey. Yes, I’m not snoring the roof off but the machine does make a noise. Not as loud as snoring but it will sound like you are on a respirator in the hospital. Snoring does come back once-in-a-while but you have to adjust your mask, sleep positions and air pressure.
Insurance will pay but….you have to use the machine for at least four hours per night. They also don’t pay all of the costs. The medical supply company you use will want you to change out your supplies more often than you really need to. Just keep your equipment clean and change the filters.
Machine isn’t a fix-all. You still have to change some eating habits and exercise. Losing weight is a must. (Yep, I’m preaching to myself on this one.)
I have a love-hate relationship with my CPAP. I dread every night when I put it on. I do go to sleep faster. Unfortunately, if I sleep too long with the mask I will wake up feeling bad. I have some issue with dizziness and keep Dramamine handy or other over-the-counter medications to clear the cobwebs.
The CPAP method is not for everyone. That’s why you need a good doctor. However, the treatment of sleep apnea is important for better health and reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other effects caused by the lack of oxygen. Do take it seriously. Even with the adjustments I have made, I have to believe that it has been a benefit for me. Breathing at night is kind of important.