The First Night’s Sleep: How To Adjust To A New CPAP Machine

It can seem like a scary time, the first few nights with your CPAP machine. You are nervous about how you will sleep with the machine, and how you will finally relax with your new sleeping buddy. However, you are not alone in this feeling, and sleep apnea sufferers have been navigating this adjustment period for years.

In this article, we take you through ways to help you adjust to your first few nights with a CPAP machine, how to make yourself more comfortable, and why patience and persistence will see you through this difficult time.

Start With Short Bursts

The first night is going to be the toughest of all, so getting yourself used to your CPAP machine is the first hurdle to overcome. While most people assume this adjustment time comes at night, the day time is the perfect time to become used to the machine.

Before your first night begins, try some of the following tips to make your mask more comfortable:

· Spend fifteen minutes at a time with the mask on, whilst watching television, cooking or working, or any alike activities
· Stand in front of the mirror to help you adjust the mask’s position, to find the most comfortable positioning
· Make your adjustments whilst lying down, which will allow you to feel if the mask shifts or moves in the lying position

Comfortable Bed and Bedding

There is no denying the first few nights with the CPAP machine is uncomfortable, so it’s essential that every other area of your bed is relaxing. Before your first night, make sure you have the best mattress for your preferred sleeping style, your bedding is cozy, and your room is temperature-controlled. A dark, quiet room will also help you settle into a deep slumber, however, it’s more important to create an environment that induces sleep for you.

Relaxation Routine

Before your time in bed begins, and you start your first night with the CPAP mask, engage in relaxation activities that will help you unwind in bed. The more relaxed you can make yourself, the better your experience will be. On your first night, try reading a book, or watching a relaxing television show, or partake in yoga or breathing exercises.

The Process Of Being Diagnosed With Sleep Apnea

The snoring is persistent and your nights are restless, and the niggling thought that yourself or your loved one is suffering from sleep apnea is controlling your thoughts. However, what’s concerning you more is; what do you do about these thoughts; how does a person become diagnosed with sleep apnea, and how do you determine if they need a CPAP machine?

In this article, we take you through the entire process of being diagnosed with sleep apnea, how the prescription of a CPAP machine is determined, and we dispel any concerns you may have about the sleep apnea testing method.

Identify possible symptoms

Before you seek advice from any medical professionals, it is worth understanding what the symptoms of sleep apnea are. The following is a general list of symptoms most sleep apnea patients suffer from:

· Loud and persistent snoring
· Waking up unable to breathe, choking or gasping
· Restless nights
· Feeling a lack of energy during the day, sleeplessness and the feeling of needing to sleep through regular activities
· Headaches in the morning
· Changes in your mood, concentration, and memory

Make an appointment with your GP

Once you take the steps to address your sleep concerns, the first step to receiving a diagnosis and treatment is to see your local GP. In your consultation, your GP will assess your symptoms and determine whether an appointment with a sleep specialist is best for you. To see a sleep specialist, you will require a current referral from your doctor, who can also advise you of sleep clinics in your area.

Complete a sleep test

Your specialist sleep doctor will investigate your symptoms through a series of methods. This may involve a more detailed analysis of your medical history and your current lifestyle choices, so it’s important you have these details on hand.

Your specialist will more than likely set you up with a sleep test; a Polysomnography (PSG) is the most likely test you will receive, which records your sleep patterns during a normal evening, which can be administered within the clinic, or through a take-home test kit.

Follow your treatment plan

Once your specialist has conducted the required tests you need, they will evaluate the results and prescribe you a treatment plan specific to your needs. Whilst most people assume they will be issued with a CPAP machine, this may not necessarily be right for you. Therefore, it is important to follow the recommendations of the specialist.

What to do if you just can’t sleep due to sleep apnea

Sleepless nights are a common symptom of sleep apnea, particularly if you are newly diagnosed and getting used to a treatment regime. If you find yourself wide awake in the early hours of the morning, you may start to feel stressed and frustrated, counting down the hours until you have to face the day.

Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can try to drift back to sleep and make the coming day much more bearable. These include:

1. Focus on your breath

Breathing deeply whilst thinking about something meditative such as a calm beach will help to mitigate your feelings of stress. Remember to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth to bring your heart rate down and to relax your muscles.

2. Take any necessary medication for ailments other than sleep apnea

If you’ve been woken up by some kind of physical ailment such as heartburn or a headache, don’t be afraid to get up and remedy the situation. Popping an antacid or painkiller should resolve the situation and make sleep much more manageable.

3. Read a book

When you just can’t sleep, you may start to worry about how much time you are whiling away in bed doing absolutely nothing. Picking up a book for a few minutes should help to remedy these feelings and will help to increase feelings of sleepiness. Just make sure you don’t start reading anything too riveting as you may not want to put the book down!

4. Avoid looking at the time

Time-checking is one of the worst things you can do during a sleepless night as it will only remind you of how little time you have left to sleep. This will increase feelings of stress and diminish your chances of drifting off.

5. Remind yourself that you will be able to cope tomorrow

Most people are able to function on a night of little to no sleep. You may find the day a little more difficult and will be desperate for an early night, but you should be able to get stuff done. Reminding yourself of this fact is a great way to relieve worry during the night and could actually increase your chances of experiencing quality sleep! Of course, when your sleeplessness is chronic, your functionality is likely to be impacted and you will need to seek medical intervention.

Photo: 16:03 by marksdk licensed under Creative commons 5

The everyday activities making your sleep apnea worse

If you are suffering from sleep apnea, more than likely you have seen a doctor about your increased snoring and inability to breathe during the night. After been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and possibly been fitted with a CPAP machine, you will perhaps be expecting a quiet and restful night’s sleep ahead, right?
You may be interested to learn that many everyday activities are worsening your sleep apnea, exasperating your condition and increasing your chances of needing further medical intervention. We have put together the common, everyday behaviours you do that are playing havoc with your sleep apnea, and how avoiding these will help you with a night of restful sleep.
Weight gain
One of the primary causes of sleep apnea is obesity, people who carry excess weight are more prone to sleep issues, in particular, sleep apnea, due to the heavy amount of tissue surrounding the airways. While it may not be the cause of your sleep apnea or your loved ones, gaining weight post-diagnosis will more than likely make the condition worse. Exercise and a healthy diet should be a priority, whilst seeking the guidance of a dietitian who specialises in weight loss in individuals with sleep apnea.  
If you have ever thought about quitting smoking, and you suffer sleep apnea, you have just given yourself the perfect reason to. The smoke from the cigarettes act as an irritant to the area around the throat; over time, smoking can cause the uvula, the soft palate, the tongue and your upper airways to swell, which inhibits your ability to breathe. Combine with sleep apnea, smoking guarantees you an unhealthy sleep.
There is little surprise that alcohol consumption is on this list, but many sufferers of sleep apnea neglect to address the impact drinking has on their rest. What alcohol does is it acts as a muscle relaxant, so during your sleep your relaxed airways are susceptible to blockages and obstructions. Cutting down your alcohol consumption is key, especially by avoiding it close to bedtime.
Sleeping on your back
For those with or without a CPAP machine, sleeping on your back is one of the worse sleeping positions for sleep apnea. While we recommend you sleep in a lateral position on your side whilst wearing the mask, this sleeping position is best for anyone with sleep apnea. Lying on your back relaxes the muscles, especially your tongue, and this position worsens the complaint.

How To Care For Your CPAP Machine

By now you have come to realise how important your CPAP machine is for your health, your sleep and your overall happiness. You can’t imagine a world where something happens to your machine and it becomes unusable, especially if the reason was something you could have easily avoided.

In the article, we take you through the basics of caring for your CPAP machine, the best practices for cleaning it and how to avoid dirt build-up in the most crucial parts of the device.

Clean Your Machine Every Day
Your CPAP mask can build up dirt very quickly, especially around the rim of the mask where it comes into contact with your face. Therefore, it is imperative you wash the machine every day. Most users find it beneficial to wipe down the machine in the morning, allowing the machine to dry during the day, ready for the evening.

Avoid using a facial oil

Before using your mask, you must have a clean face, free of moisturisers, face oils or skincare products. The chemicals in these face products breakdown the silicone around the mask, destroying the integrity and costing you in replacements. Keep your facial creams for during the day, and avoid using them at night.
Don’t use harsh chemicals
Your CPAP machine should be cleaned gently using warm water and fragrant free soap, preferably paraben and irritant-free. If you are concerned about what product to use, choose CPAP mask wipes and cleaning products, as you know they will be safe on your machine. Always use a dry paper towel to wipe down excess moisture and allow to dry in place out of the sunlight.
Check the cords

The power cords to your CPAP machine are one of the most neglected parts of the entire device. However, if these cords become tangled or damaged, you lose the ability to use your machine very quickly. Ensure you keep them out of harm’s way, out of the way of pets who chew on power cords, and lift them from the ground during vacuuming and cleaning.
Follow the maintenance schedule
When you purchase your machine, you will be given a guide indicating when to replace certain elements of the machine, such as the cushions or the mask. It’s important you follow these recommendations seriously, keeping up with changes as closely as possible. This is for your health and the longevity of the machine.

Five essential tips for traveling with a CPAP machine

Does the thought of travelling with your CPAP machine scare you beyond belief? While travelling overseas, or locally, without your CPAP machine is tempting, you run the risk of derailing your dream holiday, all in the name of convenience.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects you whether you are home or away, and neglecting your vital CPAP machine for an extended period won’t be enjoyed by you or your family! Here are our five essential tips for travelling with your CPAP machine, and how sleep apnea doesn’t have to ruin your next vacation!

Avoid packing your CPAP machine in your check-in luggage

We have all experienced the dreaded feeling at the baggage carousel, waiting impatiently for our bags to appear amongst hundreds of others. If you are one of the unlucky whose check-in luggage disappears after your flight, your bag won’t normally be returned to you for days, sometimes even weeks.

Pack your CPAP machine in your carry on in a suitable and sturdy bag, one that will ensure the machine won’t get damaged whilst in the overhead locker on the plane.

Prepare for handling by airport security

During the pre-flight screening, airport security officers will more than likely want to inspect your machine. This could involve removing the machine from its case so it can be X-rayed or checked for explosives.

In anticipation of this happening, we recommend packing the machine inside a clear plastic bag, so it can travel through a scanner without having to be touched, or come into contact with the scanner bins.

Bring the CPAP charger and adaptor

Along with the machine in your carry-on luggage, make sure you pack the charging cord for the machine, a backup if you have one, and a dedicated power adaptor, if you are travelling internationally. Plugging and unplugging the machine can be tiresome, so a dedicated adaptor will eliminate the effort.

Bring your essentials for sleep

If there is certain clothing, bedding or pillows that help settle you to sleep, or comfort you whilst wearing the CPAP machine, bring these away with you. Sleeping in a foreign bed is hard enough to adapt to, let alone with sleep apnea, so pack your creature comforts for the perfect holiday.

Avoid overnight/sleep flights

Overnight, long haul flights and sleeping flights can create a lot of anxiety for sleep apnea sufferers. To avoid this feeling, investigate shorter flights, broken up into sections or that don’t fly overnight. Consider flights that allow you to be in bed during sleep times when you can access the machine conveniently.

Common CPAP mask concerns and how to resolve them

If you suffer from sleep apnea, then a CPAP mask could help ease some of your sleeping and breathing issues. However, wearing a mask every night to treat the disorder can seem daunting, but it needn’t be. CPAP masks are available in a range of shapes, styles and sizes, so with a bit of help, you’re certain to find a mask that’s comfortable enough for regular nighttime use. Let’s take a closer look at some common CPAP mask concerns and what you can do to resolve them.

Difficulty getting used to the air pressure

At first, most users find tolerating the forced air pressure a challenge. However, a lot of new CPAP machines come with a feature that begins with a lower pressure before building this up slowly to reach the required pressure to support your breathing. If you find exhaling against the air difficult, ask your sleep expert about sensors or other features which offer relief during expiration.

The tube gets in the way

If you find the air hose to be annoying while you’re trying to sleep, consider switching to a pillow which is specifically designed for CPAP users. These tend to have large cutouts on either side so the hose doesn’t lie across your pillow. Most also have a tether to secure the tube and reduce seal disruption.

You become claustrophobic thinking about wearing the mask

Discomfort or claustrophobia is one of the most common complaints about wearing a CPAP mask, and rightly so. After all, having a mask strapped to your face takes some getting used to. Therefore, we advise wearing your mask at home through the day while you’re doing your chores, completing your usual activities or even watching the TV. This will help you get used to the feel of the mask and the air pressure, putting you more at ease once nighttime rolls around. You could also try napping with the mask on so you get used to sleeping no matter where you are.

If you still have concerns about wearing your CPAP mask, the team at Apnea Seal is happy to help. We make custom 3D masks for sleep apnea machines, so we can answer any questions you have.

Avoiding these foods can help your sleep apnea

Most sleep apnea sufferers are aware of the connection between diet and the acuteness of their condition. A good diet replete with lean meat, fruits and vegetables could help you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn can reduce the negative effects of your sleep apnea. But there are some troublesome items on your dinner table that could possibly worsen your sleep apnea no matter what the scales say.

Beware of soy products

Soy seems to be the building block of a lot of healthy products out there and tofu is mother’s milk for many vegetarians. Too much soy, however, may worsen your sleep apnea. Soy beans and the plethora of products made from them, including oil, can cause your body to produce excess mucus, which will exasperate any breathing problems you have. If you notice that you are more phlegmy than usual, it may be a good idea to check your soy consumption.

Skip the nightcap

The idea that a little sip of alcohol can help you get a good night’s sleep is a widely held misconception. The sleep that a stiff drink can help you achieve is often fragile and unreliable. This is due to a number of factors – dehydration being one of them. Alcohol also relaxes the muscles, which after a stressful day may sound appealing, but often it will relax your upper airways, making breathing difficult. This causes your CPAP machine to work harder to keep air flowing into your lungs.

Cut out the carbs/sugar

The connection between refined carbohydrates and weight gain is well documented. That in and of itself is a good reason to reduce your intake, as the more weight you gain, the higher the chance your sleep apnea symptoms will worsen. What many people do not know, however, is that there is also a connection between sugar and the amount of mucus your body produces. As with soy, high sugar foods can cause your body to produce more phlegm. It also has the unsettling effect of thickening the mucus that may be already sitting in your throat, which obviously makes breathing more difficult.

All in all, the point isn’t to abstain completely from these foods but to monitor your intake and listen to your body. Keep a food journal and take note of how you feel upon waking up the next morning. You may see that there is a direct correlation between a peaceful night’s sleep and the meals you consumed the day before.

How a good nighttime routine can help sleep apnea

If you are suffering from sleep apnea (also known as sleep apnoea), you may be wondering what you can do to achieve a good night’s sleep. For many, developing a good night time routine can drastically reduce the effects of sleep apnea. That is why we have put together these handy tips gathered from talking to sleep apnea sufferers about their nighttime routines and what has helped them.

Go to bed when properly tired

This might seem obvious, but many of us lay down before our bodies are truly ready for sleep. Exercising in the evening can be a good way to use up any excess energy you might have. Also, try and avoid watching videos on your phone or other activities that might keep your mind alert while lying in bed. You want to lay down to sleep when you are ready to sleep so you can sleep deeply in one position, and avoid tossing and turning, which can reposition you onto your back.

Avoid sleeping on your back

This might seem easier said than done, but sufferers of sleep apnea will know it is much more preferable to sleep on your side. As a fail-safe, you might try the tennis ball trick. Sew a tennis ball into the back of your pyjamas or place a pillow with a ball inside it behind your back. That way if you do roll over, you will move again due to discomfort.

Don’t eat right before bed

You don’t want to load your body with energy right before sleep, so avoid eating, especially sugary foods, right before bed. Try and have your dinner as early as possible to allow for digestion before sleep.

Meditation for sleep apnea

Meditation and mindfulness are a great way to prepare the mind and body for deep sleep. These practices help to calm the mind and regulate breathing, which are two key issues for sleep apnea sufferers. The more relaxed you are, the more chance you have of deep and restful sleep.

So there you have it! Follow these simple tips for developing a good nighttime routine, and they might help reduce your sleep apnea and give you (and those around you) a much better night sleep. Why not give them a try today?

Photo: Moon by pviojo licensed under Creative commons 4

How to cope after a sleepless night

Although sleep apnea treatments can help improve your sleep quality and reduce sleepless nights, sufferers may still find themselves coping with fatigue from time to time. Whether you’re getting used to sleeping with a CPAP mask or are waiting for your treatment regime to start working, you may occasionally find yourself staring at the ceiling all night long.

Fortunately, there are ways that sleep apnea sufferers can cope with the effects of short-term sleep deprivation. These include:

1. Avoid your snooze button

Getting up as soon as your alarm sounds after a night of tossing and turning can be difficult, but it will help your body stay in sync with its natural sleeping patterns. Snoozing outside of your normal hours can leave you feeling groggy and will make your day more difficult to get through.

2. Step outside

Immersing yourself in natural light will help wake you up by raising your body temperature and lifting your mood. Ideally, try taking a short walk before work or whatever important activities you have planned for the day.

3. Eat breakfast

Eating breakfast as soon as you get up is a great way to stimulate the brain, improve your mood and mitigate the effects of fatigue. Make sure to stay clear of sugary foods, however. As well as potentially contributing to weight gain, they are likely to cause a sugar crash during the day, leaving you feeling drained and unwell.

4. Get the important stuff done first

If you’re heading into the office, make sure that you take on the tricky tasks first as you will be most alert during the first few hours of the day.

5. Feel free to indulge in some coffee

Caffeine can be useful if you’re sleep deprived, so make yourself a few tasty cups of coffee early in the day. Once you hit 3pm, however, avoid imbibing any more caffeinated drinks, as they could potentially hinder another night’s sleep.

6. Make a note of your sleepless nights

Although insomnia is perfectly normal from time to time (even for those without sleep apnea), chronic sleeplessness may be a cause for concern. If you find that you’re suffering from fatigue on a regular basis, make an appointment with your doctor. A few simple adjustments to your treatment regime could be all that is needed to address your issues.