Sleep apnea is a serious but common sleep disorder affecting nearly 18 million Americans. The problem often goes undiagnosed and as many as one on 50 have it but do not know it. Sufferers stop breathing multiple times during the night for periods of time as long as several minutes and can occur as many as 60 times a night. When left untreated, people who suffer from sleep apnea are three times more likely to have heart disease and four times as likely to have a stoke than non-sufferers. The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure machine or CPAP mask.
The problem with the CPAP mask is that many people find it to be uncomfortable so they do not wear it. Nearly 50% of all people who are prescribed a CPAP mask will stop using it between one and three weeks after they get it. Some have estimated that as many as 80% of people who have a CPAP mask do not use it enough to get the benefits nor keep them safe from the dangers associated with sleep apnea.
5 Tips for Getting Used to a CPAP Mask:
- Start by just wearing the CPAP mask without turning the machine on. For many people, wearing a large mask is a problem. Some people say that it makes them claustrophobic. Experts in CPAP machines recommend wearing CPAP masks around the house during the day. Wear it while watching TV. The more you wear it, the easier it will be to get used to it and then be able to fall asleep with it on and running. This may take some time so be persistent and you can get yourself used to it.
- Make sure you are not allergic to it. Many people are allergic to latex or other materials that are commonly used in the CPAP mask. If you have any concern that you may be allergic to the CPAP mask, talk to your doctor right away. There may be a different mask that you can use. If you have had the CPAP mask for a while, make sure you are cleaning it often enough. Frequently, people who get a rash from their CPAP masks are not cleaning it often enough. A true allergy will appear the first night you use the CPAP mask.
- Get one that is comfortable for you. There are different types of CPAP masks out there. There are the full face masks but there are others. Talk to your doctor about the different options and make sure it is fitted correctly for your face. An improperly fitting CPAP mask can be made more comfortable by adjusting it to fit your face.
- Ease into the pressure. Having air forced into your lungs can definitely can take some getting used to. The sleep specialist who prescribed your CPAP machine will give you what they want the machine to be set at but you can gradually get to that pressure. Most machines allow you to start at a lower air pressure and work up to the level prescribed by your doctor.
- Have a positive attitude towards your CPAP mask.If you start wearing it thinking you will hate it and will never get used to it, you probably will. Try to think about the good that the device is doing you. Your brain and body suffer when deprived of oxygen, which is exactly what happens when you stop breathing at night. If you approach your CPAP supplies with a positive energy and thoughts, you will be surprised at how much easier it will be to get used to wearing it while you sleep.
Sleep apnea may not seem like a big deal but it really is. People may laugh about snoring but the health consequences of untreated sleep apnea are no joke. Nearly 38,000 people die every year from cardiovascular complications from sleep apnea. This is according to work done by the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research. These are preventable deaths as this is a treatable problem. Take some time with your CPAP mask and try to be positive about wearing it and you will find you can get used to sleeping with it on.