Choosing the right sleep apnea mask

If you’ve just been diagnosed with sleep apnea, the key to successful treatment is finding the right CPAP mask. This can prove challenging, as there are many options to choose from. But don’t fret. By following these simple tips, you’ll find the ideal sleep apnea mask for your needs.

1. Select the right style

Generally, sleep apnea masks are designed to deliver air through your nose. They are triangular, constructed of gel or a plastic cushion covering the nose and resting just below the nostrils. The attached headgear is made of fabric, plastic clips or Velcro.

There are many variations on this basic design. For example, you can get a CPAP mask designed to relieve pressure through contact points on the forehead. Some have extra cushioning to prevent leaks or facial marks.

Another design has nasal pillows resembling ear buds for the nostrils. If you are claustrophobic, this is a great option. Another option is masks covering your nose and mouth. These prevent dry mouth and help if you breathe through your mouth.

2. Get the right size

When you undergo a sleep study, staff will have various sizes to choose from. Most mask options (like those mentioned above) come in a variety of sizes. Depending on the manufacturer, masks generally have intermediate sizes, like “small-medium”, right up to “wide” sizes. When choosing your mask, select one large enough to deliver maximum airflow. Avoid extra large sizes if you can. These can shift on your face and may even leak.

Ensure you try it on while attached to a CPAP machine that’s delivering optimal air pressure. Also try the headgear for the total experience.

3. Use accessories for easy compliance

The right accessories will make your CPAP treatment even easier. Headgear that secures your mask can be as varied as the masks themselves. Most are constructed of machine-washable fabric. Some include Velcro for a customisable fit. And others include plastic clips. These allow you to fit the mask properly, and take it on and off with ease.

For more advice on selecting the perfect sleep apnea mask, call or email the Apnea Seal team today.

How does sleep apnea differ between adults and children?

Sleep apnea, also commonly written as sleep apnoea, is a sleep disorder wherein the throat is partially or completely obstructed throughout the night. There are many causes and aggravators of sleep apnea, including a narrow throat passage, obesity, or neuromuscular disorders.

But does sleep apnea differ in its symptoms, causes, and effects between children and adults? The short answer is yes, it does. Though there is overlap between the two age groups, there are also some striking differences. Let’s dive in.

Symptoms of sleep apnea: Children vs adults

Children and adults share many of the same symptoms of sleep apnea. These include snoring, frequent pauses in breathing, mouth dryness, a restless night of sleep, and choking, snorting, or coughing during the night.

However, one distinct difference between children and adults that have sleep apnea is that children may also suffer from night terrors or bedwetting, which could be embarrassing for them.

Effects of sleep apnea: Children vs adults

One of the biggest differences in how sleep apnea affects children and adults is how they have been affected the morning after.

For adults, daytime sleepiness is likely the most prominent symptom, as well as the possibility of general irritability. However, the ramifications for children are likely to be more long-term, including behavioural problems and hyperactivity that can negatively affect their social and school life.

If sleep apnea goes undiagnosed in children, this could also pose further problems down the line, including stunted growth in cognitive development.

Causes of sleep apnea: Children vs adults

Again, though the causes of sleep apnea are interchangeable between children and adults, there are some causes that are far more predominant in one age group over the other.

One of the leading causes of sleep apnea in adults is obesity or loose facial skin around the neck, as this can cause the airway to fold or tighten under the pressure. However, in children, the most likely cause of sleep apnea is an enlargement of the tonsils or adenoids.

If you’re looking for a sleep apnea mask to improve the quality of your sleep and minimise the presence of sleep apnea symptoms, look no further than the 3D printed CPAP masks by Apnea Seal. Browse our website today to find out more information or to get in touch.

3 bedtime habits that can lead to a bad night’s sleep

There are many factors that go into having a restful night’s sleep, but some of the most important things you can do to wake up feeling refreshed occur a couple of hours before you hit the hay. In this blog, we’ll take a look at 3 things you might be doing before bed that can lead to a bad night’s sleep.

3 bedtime habits that lead to a bad night’s sleep

Taking certain medications

If you are experiencing sleep issues and regularly take supplements or medications, ask your doctor what time of day you should be taking your dosage. Some medications, like antidepressants, can make you more alert for several hours after you take them while pain medications can upset your stomach and make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Sleeping pills can also cause long-term issues, so if you are taking them frequently, ask your doctor if there are any other options that might be better for you.

Eating spicy or fatty foods

Having a big meal shortly before you go to bed can make it uncomfortable to fall asleep if you are painfully full or bloated. Fatty or spicy foods can be particularly risky because they can cause acid reflux when you lie down in bed. As a rule, it’s best to avoid eating a meal within the 2 hours before you go to bed so that your body has enough time to start to digest it. If you can’t avoid eating something before you go to bed, try to stick to foods that promote sleep, such as a glass of milk or simple carbohydrates.

Drinking alcohol

Because alcohol makes you feel drowsy, many people are under the impression that drinking it before bed can result in a better night’s sleep, but this is not the case. As your body metabolises alcohol, it can interrupt your REM sleep cycle, which is the restorative period during sleep. Interrupted REM sleep can make it difficult for you to concentrate the next day and you’ll likely wake up feeling tired and groggy. Having a glass of wine or two during dinner is fine, but drinking shortly before you go to bed is best avoided.

If you suffer from sleep apnea and are in need of an effective CPAP mask, take a look at our 3D fitted mask at ApneaSeal today.

What are the main risk factors of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea (also known as obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA) is a common condition that affects many Australians as they sleep. But what is sleep apnea, and what are the main factors that heighten the risk of suffering from it?

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the airway gets obstructed during sleep due to a relaxation of the airway muscles and tongue. This results in the manifestation of symptoms such as snoring, waking up feeling tired and irritated, a lack of concentration the following day, as well as the possibility of waking up choking or gasping for air.

Though sleep apnea on its own is unlikely to result in death, it can be a contributing factor to someone passing away in their sleep if the condition is severe enough. In particular, sleep apnea has been known to complicate symptoms of heart diseases, strokes, asthma, COPD, and diabetes mellitus.

Thus, if you have even an inkling of suspicion that you might be suffering from sleep apnea, do not hesitate to get in touch with your doctor. This is even more urgent if you have any of the following factors that increase the risk of severe sleep apnea:

Obesity

Especially in higher areas of the body such as your abdomen and neck, obesity is, unfortunately, a factor that can significantly increase the risk of sleep apnea complications. This is due to the increased likelihood of skin or fat increasing the pressure on your airways, making it harder to breathe.

Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption

While these are two factors that are generally bad for your health anyway, smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol are both habits that increase the risk of suffering from sleep apnea. With cigarettes, in particular, you’re damaging your lungs and airways through the inhalation of smoke and nicotine, which makes breathing problems more likely.

A family history of OSA

If you lead a healthy lifestyle, are of a healthy weight, but still suspect you might have sleep apnea, it’s worth checking with your family to see if anyone else suffers from OSA. Genetic factors, such as a wide neck circumference or facial abnormalities can mean passing down OSA is possible.

If you have OSA and would like a sleep apnea mask 3D printed to fit the contours of your face, choose ApneaSeal. We print bespoke masks to uniquely sit on your face, so you don’t run the risk of it coming loose or off during the night.

Sleep apnea: The health effects of sleep deprivation

If you suffer from persistent sleep apnea, it can be difficult to achieve a restful night’s sleep. In this blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at the effects of a lack of sleep on your overall health.

Weight gain and obesity

A lack of sleep is directly related to the increased production of the stress hormone, cortisol. This increased stress and anxiety can lead to poor nutritional habits and binge eating. Ghrelin, another hormone produced in the stomach, is also linked to sleep deprivation over a long period of time. Excess amounts of ghrelin in the stomach can make you feel more hungry, leading to overindulgence and unhealthy cravings, as well as a reduction in physical activity and stamina. Research also shows that people who feel tired are more likely to crave foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates.

Weakened immune system and sleep apnea

During sleep, your immune system produces infection-fighting substances such as cytokines and antibodies in order to protect your body against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Some cytokines can also help you to have a more restful night’s sleep, which can strengthen your immune system further to protect your body against illness. Without sufficient sleep, your immune system is not equipped to defend your body and so it may take you longer to fully recover from illnesses caused by viruses and bacterial infections. Being deprived of sleep consistently can also increase your risk of developing long-term chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.

Reduced brain function

During sleep, connections form between neurons (nerve cells) in the brain that can help you retain new information. Sleep deprivation can prevent your brain from performing optimally which can affect your ability to learn new things or concentrate. The signals sent by the rest of your body to your brain may also be delayed, which can increase your risk of getting in accidents due to decreased coordination. Not only this, but sleep deprivation can also affect your mental state and can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression.

If you suffer from sleep apnea and are looking for a custom 3D fitted CPAP mask, get in touch with our team at ApneaSeal today.

Could sleep apnea be affecting your mental health?

The association between sleep apnea and mental health is a well-established one. What is less clear is whether sleep apnea predisposes people to suffer from mental health problems, or whether mental illness may, in some way, increase the likelihood of sleep apnea developing.

A recent study showed that people with sleep apnea suffered disproportionately from mental health issues: not only were sleep apnea sufferers disproportionately more likely to have a mental health problem (including not only mood disorders but also serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia), they were also less likely to be receiving the appropriate care.

Here we consider three of the barriers which can prevent sleep apnea sufferers from seeking appropriate mental health assistance, and how to overcome them.

Your symptoms may not be due to sleep apnea

Feeling lethargic, unmotivated, miserable or apathetic can all be symptoms of uncontrolled sleep apnea, but may also be symptoms of a separate mental health condition. If your sleep apnea is well-controlled, but symptoms persist, this could mean that there is a need for mental health assessment and treatment.

Use an advocate

Sleep apnea can leave sufferers feeling extremely tired, meaning they find advocating for themselves a challenge. Particularly if mental health problems are adding to feelings of exhaustion and lethargy, it can feel as if getting the appropriate help is simply too difficult. This is where a friend, partner or other trusted adult can help. Not only can they assist practically (for example by giving you a lift to medical appointments if you feel unable to go under your own steam), they can also explain to your medical provider about the problems you’re facing and push for your needs to be addressed.

Keep pushing for treatment

Sometimes it’s all too easy to be fobbed off with treatments or lifestyle advice which fail to get to the root of the problems you’re experiencing. If the initial measures suggested don’t help, it’s important to go back to your medical provider and request some additional treatment options.

The fact that sleep apnea sufferers are more prone to mental health problems means it’s vital that regular assessment and treatment of their mental health needs forms a part of any on-going management programme.

Five ways exercise could improve the symptoms of sleep apnea

For many sufferers, sleep apnea is a chronic disease for which there is no straight-forward cure. Luckily, there are a number of lifestyle changes which can have a positive impact on sleep apnea symptoms. One of these is increasing activity levels. Here we consider five potential benefits that taking more exercise may bring to people living with sleep apnea.

Losing weight

Studies show that even modest weight loss can result in a measurable improvement in symptoms. Exercise burns additional calories compared to remaining sedentary, as well as providing a distraction from the temptation of boredom eating.

Improved cardio-vascular function

Done regularly, exercise that gets participants out of breath improves cardio-vascular performance. This means lung performance is improved and the heart muscle is strengthened. These positive changes frequently reduce the severity of sleep apnea symptoms.

Enhanced relaxation

Exercise that encourages deep breathing and muscle relaxation can be useful in preparing the body for a peaceful slumber. With many sleep apnea sufferers dreading the prospect of another restless night, activities such as yoga, tai chi and qigong can help to facilitate relaxation, increasing the chances of good-quality sleep.

Improved mental health

During exercise (particularly if it’s vigorous), the body produces “feel good” hormones called endorphins. These create a feeling of mental well-being. The limitations which sleep apnea can place on people’s day-to-day lives can result in anxiety and depression, made worse by the physical effects of the condition. Endorphins can go some way towards promoting positive mental health and feelings of well-being.

Specific exercises can support the airway and improve breathing

In addition to generic exercise, there are a number of specific exercises which sleep apnea patients can complete that are designed to improve the strength of the tongue and throat muscles. Performed regularly, after a few weeks, many patients notice an improvement in symptoms. Your sleep professional will be able to advise on a suitable exercise regime, based on your individual requirements.

Exercise brings a wide range of benefits to sleep apnea sufferers. As well as physiological advantages, exercise is also a great way to meet new people, enjoy the outdoors and learn fresh skills. With so many benefits, it’s little wonder that it’s a popular self-help option.

Sleep apnea: five mental health self care tips

Although sleep apnea is primarily a physical condition, it can have a devastating effect on mental health. Untreated, sleep apnea has the potential to reduce the amount of oxygen which the brain receives: this can significantly impair memory, concentration and focus, as well as increasing the likelihood of anxiety and depression. In some cases, sleep apnea can trigger severe mental illnesses. Even when the condition is being managed, symptoms can persist. For some patients, using a CPAP machine be traumatic, resulting in an increased likelihood of low mood, anxiety, poor self-esteem and related issues. For all these reasons, paying attention to positive mental health management is vital. Here we take a look at five must-dos, when it comes to maintaining mental well-being.

Seek medical assistance

If you’re feeling low, a trip to your GP or healthcare provider is a must. Doctors have access to a range of different treatment options that could make a real difference. Remember that your mental health is important! Seeking medical support can help you get what’s needed to make a real difference to your well-being.

Reach out to others

Frequently friends, family and professionals will want to help, but they won’t know what you need and how you’re feeling if you don’t tell them! Telling others how you feel and requesting support is crucial. Often, the positive feedback that you are valued and needed can make all the difference.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Cutting back on the booze, stopping smoking and losing weight are time honoured additions to any programme of self-care measures for a reason: these habits really do make a difference to health and well-being. Studies show that sleep apnea sufferers who are overweight, drink excessively or who smoke are less likely to respond well to treatment, and experience greater limitations due to their condition.

Do things you enjoy

Making a pro-active decision to spend time on your hobbies frequently improves mood, as well as providing a positive alternative to more destructive behaviours.

Don’t forget about exercise!

Even if you don’t lose weight through exercise, becoming more active brings its own set of mental and physical benefits. Start gradually, pick an activity you enjoy and keep it up!

3 techniques to use if you wake up at night

Waking up throughout the night can be one of the first warning signs that people with undiagnosed sleep apnea experience. However, once you start CPAP therapy, it can be hard to adjust to sleeping with a mask, and you may find that you are still waking up at night. If you feel uncomfortable, you may be tempted to take off your mask, but this is something that you should never do. Not only is this dangerous, but it’s important to push through the adjustment period so you get used to your new routine.

Here are three techniques to try if you wake up and struggle to fall back asleep.

The 4-7-8 breathing method

Doing a few rounds of this breathing pattern when you’re lying awake in bed can help to calm the nervous system and send you back off to sleep.

– Position the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth.
– With your mouth closed, inhale through your nose to the count of four.
– Hold your breath and mentally count to seven.
– Open your mouth and exhale slowly to the count of eight.
– Repeat, doing at least three full rounds.

Get up and change your focus

It might sound counterintuitive, but one method for getting back to sleep is to get up. This is because our minds tend to spiral out of control when we are lying awake at night, making the situation worse as we worry about not being able to fall asleep. Get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired again, then go back to bed. For example, try some bedtime yoga asanas or sit on your sofa and listen to a recorded sleep meditation. You could also make a cup of chamomile tea and drink it slowly, as you read a book. Never watch TV or do anything that involves looking at a screen, as this could keep you awake for longer.

Try a sleep-inducing snack

If you wake up at night and you feel hungry, it could be a result of hypoglycemia. Try eating something light and rich in the amino acid tryptophan, such as a glass of warm milk or a banana. Or try a small bowl of warm oatmeal (without added sugar). Oats are a source of melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. While you are preparing your snack and eating it, try to keep the lights dimmed and your phone on sleep or aeroplane mode.

To find out more about sleep apnea or CPAP therapy, contact us at ApneaSeal today.

What is the apnea-hypopnea index?

The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is a scale that measures how serious your sleep disorder is. Used to test both apnea (when you stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer) and hypopnea (a partial loss of breath for 10 seconds or more), it determines how many times per hour of sleep you experience one of these events.

What do the numbers mean?

Your score is based on your average result, which is calculated by taking the number of times you experience hypopnea or apnea during the night and dividing this by your hours of sleep.

If you experience less than five events per hour, you are considered to have normal sleep. However, if you experience up to 14 events per hour, you fall into the ‘mild’ category. If you receive a moderate sleep apnea diagnosis, you experience 15 to 29 events per hour. Finally, if you have severe apnea, you experience 30 or more events.

Although children are less likely to have sleep apnea, doctors will consider an AHI above 1 as unusual. Generally, a child will require treatment if their AHI is more than 5.

How AHI is measured in a sleep study

During a sleep study, information is collected using a number of sensors designed to track your breathing patterns. These include nasal cannulas, oximeter clips and respiratory effort belts.

When will you need treatment?

If your AHI is normal, you won’t require treatment. However, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks are used for mild, moderate and severe sleep apnea. Most specialists will be looking for less than 5 events per hour, but if your baseline AHI is significant, such as 80 events per hour, even 8 events will be viewed as an excellent improvement.

Newer CPAP machines are able to track abnormal breathing events and generate an AHI. This information can then be used to manage your treatment. It’s important to remember that someone with a high AHI may not necessarily require a high CPAP pressure to resolve their condition as anatomy and lifestyle factors play a part too.

To find out more about the apnea-hypopnea index or CPAP machines, contact us at Apnea-Seal today.