Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea? You are not alone--it is estimated that 22 million Americans have some form of sleep apnea, but 80% of those cases are undiagnosed! Congratulations on taking control of your health by visiting a doctor.
Now that you have been formally diagnosed, you are probably adjusting to using a CPAP machine. For some, the transition is easy; for others, you think you'll never be able to sleep again! Here are some common problems and solutions:
Problem: My mask is so uncomfortable--there is no way I can sleep!
Solution: This is a very common complaint. Firstly, make sure that you choose the right CPAP mask for you--the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST) has a great list comparing the pros and cons of differing models. Once you have chosen the right mask for you, have your doctor show you the proper way to wear the mask. Take your time adjusting the straps and practice laying down while wearing it.
Most masks are designed to conform to your face shape and (like shoes) "break in" to become more comfortable with time. We recommend wearing the mask during the day to aid the "breaking in" process and to help you become accustomed to wearing it!
Problem: My mask makes me feel claustrophobic.
Solution: Again, this is a common (and scary!) feeling amongst new CPAP users. First, talk to your doctor and make sure you have the right mask for you (see link above)--certain masks are less invasive than others. Once you have the right mask, practice wearing your mask during the daytime and work toward becoming comfortable with how the mask feels against your face. Once it's time for bed, calmly remind yourself that the CPAP mask will dramatically improve your sleep and your overall health. Try calming breathing exercises, such as this one:
In addition, cultivate a relaxation ritual before you go to bed (meditation, cup of tea, etc.). If none of these tips work, please go see your doctor or sleep expert!
Problem: My CPAP machine blows air onto my partner and keeps him/her awake.
Solution: Your CPAP machine may be affecting your partner too! Certain models blow out excess air or have small lights than can keep your partner awake. For this, we recommend using the Snoozeenie! It's a plush pillow partition that can block out any flashing lights or excess air that might be coming from a CPAP machine.
There has been a LOT of great feedback about using Snoozeenie for this purpose. It also opens and closes a full 180 degrees so that you can store it behind or pillow or elsewhere during the daytime! When your partner sleeps well, you sleep well!
Problem: I can't seem to keep my CPAP mask on during the night. I must be removing it in my sleep!
Solution: If this is a matter of the mask slipping off in the night, a simple tightening of the straps may be all that it takes! However, if you are removing the mask while asleep, it might be because your nose becomes congested and you subconsciously remove it to breathe easier. If this is the case, try adding nasal spray to clear your sinuses before bedtime. Hopefully, as your body grows more accustomed to wearing the mask, you will be less inclined to remove it.
Problem: No matter what I do, I just can't fall asleep.
Solution: Trouble sleeping is a major problem for adults everywhere--CPAP or no CPAP. In this case, we recommend adopting a more "sleep-focused" lifestyle and, more particularly, a "sleep-focused" night routine. Be sure to keep your bedroom at a nice cool temperature, avoid alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime, and put away any bright screens to give your brain a rest. You can also check out our "Eat Well, Sleep Well" blog post for diet changes that can improve your sleep.
For other remedies, you might consider adding a nighttime yoga routine to ready your body for rest or purchase essential oils (like lavender) to further ease the mind. It's all about finding a night routine and sticking with it!
We want to hear from YOU!
What problems have you faced while wearing your CPAP mask? Have you found a solution? Leave your comments below!