Sleep apnea is a common and serious sleep disorder than affects nearly 18 million people in the United States. Sufferers stop breathing multiple times throughout the night for periods of time lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. These periods of time when a person stops breathing are called “apneas” and someone with the disorder can have up to 60 in any given night. People with untreated sleep apnea are three times as likely to develop heart disease and four times as likely to have a stroke than people who either do not have it or control it with treatment. Many of these sufferers use a sleep apnea machine.
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a sleep apnea machine. The most commonly prescribed sleep apnea machine is the Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. It basically forces air into the patient’s lungs and prevents them from stopping breathing during the night.
These machines are not perfect but there are way to avoid some common issues people have using any device that requires a sleep apnea mask.
- How can I make the CPAP mask more comfortable? There are different kinds of CPAP masks. You can get a full face CPAP mask or a smaller mask. Make sure the mask fits properly. There are small masks that just fit in your nose, these are called nasal pillows. If you read or watch TV in bed and wear glasses, the smaller mask may work better but if you move around a lot when you sleep, a larger mask might work better. Make sure your mask is fit to your face.
- This just is not comfortable. It is certainly hard to sleep when you are uncomfortable. Try wearing it for periods of time during the day to acclimate yourself to the mask and how it feels on your face. When you are more used to wearing it, put it on every single time you sleep. Wear it at night but also wear it when you take a nap, if you do that. The more you wear your sleep apnea machine mask, the easier it will be to sleep with it on.
- I do not like the feeling when air is forced into me. You can start to get used to the way your sleep apnea machine works but adjusting the CPAP settings. Start yourself off on a lower pressure setting, as you get used to that, raise it until you have reached the level prescribed by your doctor.
- I feel so dried out after I sleep with it. You can get a sleep apnea machine with a humidifying function. Older people, over 60, often need heated humidification for their CPAP machines. If you find yours is making you feel too dried out, you can opt for that. Your doctor can also prescribe nasal drops to help with that.
- It just makes me more claustrophobic. This is a common complaint. Try placing the mask on your face without securing the straps or attaching the hose. As you get used to that, wear it with the straps. Gradually work yourself up to the point where you can wear the full apparatus. It may take some time but it will happen if you work at it.
The bottom line is that sleep apnea is very serious but you can improve your health with some work and effort.