Helping your child use a CPAP Mask

Sleep apnea can affect people of all ages, even children. However, when children are very young, they might find wearing a CPAP mask annoying or uncomfortable, particularly if this is something that’s new to them. Eventually, your child will get used to the mask, but in the meantime, here are some ways you can help them:

Routine is important

Have a set bedtime routine you stick to every night, as this will help your child get used to putting the mask on at the same time in the same way. If it’s integrated into their evening the same way that brushing their teeth is, soon enough they won’t even notice it. It’s important to make bedtime routines as simple as possible without too many steps. Unessential elements like preparing clothes and packed lunches should be done in the morning.

Check on the CPAP mask at night

When still getting used to the mask, children are in the habit of pulling their mask off while asleep. While the mask is still new, it’s a good idea to reposition the mask at night if it has slipped out of place. This won’t be something you have to do in the long term, so losing a bit of sleep for a few weeks will be worth the change in your child’s life.

Involve them in the decisions

Although some children will prefer you to handle putting on the CPAP mask, asking them whether they want to be a part of the process could help them feel more in control. You could ask them if they want to try fitting the mask one night or whether they want to be the one to press the button and switch on the machine. However, it’s important that wearing the mask itself isn’t a choice, as this is essential.

Answer their questions

Your child will probably be confused about their CPAP mask. Make sure you explain everything to them so that they understand why they need to wear it and the benefits it offers. Doing this in a simple way can help children be more receptive to this new part of their life.

Photo: Child by be creator licensed under Creative commons 4

Tips for falling asleep with your CPAP mask

CPAP masks can take a while to get used to. While they’re an essential piece of equipment for unobstructed breathing, if you’re not used to wearing one, they might feel a little strange. However, there are a few things you can do to make it easier to fall asleep while wearing a CPAP mask.

Practice

To ease yourself into wearing the mask, try wearing it during the day while you’re at home, doing a relaxing activity like reading or watching TV. This will get you used to wearing the mask while winding down, so it won’t feel so strange when you use it to sleep for the first time.

Adjust your bed for maximum comfort

The fewer distractions you have when you sleep, the better, so make sure that everything around you when you’re sleeping is as comfortable as possible. Make sure your mattress is the correct firmness, your room is adequately dark and your pillows are soft enough that you can sleep soundly. You can even buy pillows that are specifically designed to fit sleep apnea masks and mattresses that can be tilted upwards to clear your airways. It’s also a good idea to make sure your room is the optimal temperature for sleep – between 16 and 20°C is recommended.

Wind down before bed

Endeavouring to relax your body and wind down before you go to bed will prepare your body for rest, making it easier to drift off to sleep. Avoid using technology before going to bed, and take some time to do activities that don’t require much focus, such as reading or watching TV. Avoid stimulants such as coffee or alcohol and refrain from doing any stress-inducing activities. It’s also important to only go to bed when you’re tired because going to bed too early and lying there awake will only keep you up for longer!

A fully customised mask, like the one from ApneaSeal, is perfectly contoured to your own face, making it feel less foreign and more comfortable so you can have a restful, uninterrupted sleep.

4 simple tips to ease the symptoms of sleep apnea

Treat other conditions

First and foremost, it is essential to make sure that you treat any other medical conditions that might impact your ability to breathe. Coughs, acid reflux, and congestion can all restrict your breathing and can amplify the symptoms of sleep apnea. In some cases, these conditions may trigger the condition. Acid reflux, for example, can irritate your throat muscles and cause swelling, while nasal congestion and coughing can inflame your upper airways and make it difficult for you to breathe through your nose. Thankfully, there are many simple treatments available for these conditions, so be sure to consult your doctor to determine the best option for you.

Use a humidifier

Installing a humidifier in the room where you sleep can change your environment so that it promotes trouble-free breathing. Dry nasal passages and a dry throat can obstruct your breathing and make you susceptible to breathing in bacteria and dust particles that may worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea. To combat this, a humidifier adds moisture to the air, allowing more moisture to enter the nasal passages and throat as you breathe. A humidifier may not cure sleep apnea, but it can lead to a more comfortable sleep.

Change your sleeping position

This tip is the most simple but can produce impressive results. Sleeping on your back is proven to move your tongue and the soft palate to the back of your throat, which obstructs your breathing by narrowing the air passages, making snoring worse. Sleeping on your front, while it may seem like the obvious solution, forces you to twist your neck which further constricts your airways. Sleeping on your side with your head elevated points your airways downward, resulting in unrestricted airflow.

Yoga

Exercise, in general, is proven to be extremely beneficial for people who suffer from sleep apnea. Yoga, in particular, focuses on controlling your breathing. Yoga places particular importance on learning how to breathe through your diaphragm, allowing you to breathe deeper with more control. After a while, practising diaphragmatic breathing can become second nature and can carry over into your sleep.

For a CPAP mask fully customised for the contours of your face, contact ApneaSeal today.

Common CPAP machine issues and how to solve them

One of the safest and most effective treatment options for patients with sleep apnea is the CPAP machine. With proper use, it can prevent frequent night-time waking and help sufferers feel properly rested every day. However, a CPAP mask can seem a little cumbersome at first, and many users report issues with discomfort and being unable to fall asleep. Read on to find out some of the most common problems reported by first-time CPAP users (and how to solve them).

1. Difficulty getting used to wearing a CPAP mask

Some CPAP machine users find it difficult to get used to wearing a mask, as it can feel quite unnatural to have something attached to your face at night. If this applies to you, try wearing the mask at home during the day whilst doing gentle tasks such as reading or watching TV. This will help you become accustomed to the mask and will make falling asleep with it on feel much more natural.

2. Experiencing a runny nose after using the machine

It is fairly common to experience issues with nasal mucus after using a CPAP machine, but there are a few steps you can take to prevent this. First of all, check whether your machine comes with a heated humidifier, which will alleviate the symptoms. If this doesn’t solve your problems, it may also be worth considering using a nasal saline spray before you go to prevent to stop your nose from becoming too dry. Finally, it is also a good idea to check that your mask fits snugly, as a leaking mask can easily dry out your nasal passages.

3. Taking the mask off while asleep

Many patients new to using a CPAP machine will find that they remove the mask in their sleep. This is particularly true for active sleepers that have a tendency to move around in bed. To address the issue, it may help to invest in a chin strap that will keep the device on your face. If this does not solve things, you may want to consider using an alarm to check whether the device is still attached in the middle of the night. This can gradually be set at later times in the night if you find yourself keeping the mask on for longer.

Photo: CPAP by .Larry Page licensed under Creative commons 4

What is microsleep and why is it dangerous?

You may well have heard of the two distinct types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and the deeper non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During sleep, most people tend to experience both kinds in cycles, drifting in and out of REM and falling into a NREM state.

However, you may not be aware of a third state of sleep, commonly referred to as microsleep. Unlike standard sleeping patterns, microsleeping often occurs as an involuntary reflex, usually caused by sleep deprivation. It can be extremely dangerous, especially when it occurs during activities like working or driving.

Understanding microsleep

A microsleeping episode is when a person’s brain falls asleep for a very short period of time – usually between half a second and a minute. During this time, the eyes might be open or closed, and the sleeper is likely unaware they have fallen asleep. Other signs of microsleep include lapses in concentration. Microsleeping can be mistaken for minor seizures, a poor attention span, or a temporary loss of muscle control.

Microsleep is most dangerous when it occurs at the wheel, as it can cause drivers to veer off the road or crash. It is also extremely dangerous if it happens at work, especially when a person operates machinery. Frequent episodes of microsleep, with attacks several times a day, are a classic symptom of the condition narcolepsy.

Sleep apnea and microsleep

The most common cause of microsleep episodes is a lack of good quality sleep. Overtiredness can cause the brain to malfunction and shut down for short periods. A classic cause of interrupted sleep is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which reduces or stops breathing function during sleep – and therefore interrupts sleep quality. This can cause severe tiredness, and this in turn can lead to microsleep episodes during the day.

In order to reduce the risks posed by microsleep attacks, it is important for OSA sufferers to seek help for their condition. Getting a good night’s sleep is the best way to tackle overtiredness and reduce the risk of having a microsleep episode. Using a sleep apnea machine with a comfortable fitted mask is a proven way of reducing apnea attacks, which in turn should reduce or stop incidences of microsleep. Contact us today for more information.

Photo: Driving by Joe Le Merou licensed under Creative commons 4
sleep apnea food

Easing sleep apnea symptoms with the food you eat

What we eat has a fundamental role in energising our daily functions, but for those with sleep apnea, daily functions can be difficult to carry out. However, in conjunction with medical help from a CPAP mask or machine, measuring what you eat can help boost those energy levels and ease other sleep apnea symptoms. Taking note of these tips can help you take all possible steps to ease sleep apnea symptoms and optimise the chance of getting a solid night’s sleep.

Foods to eat

Food that contains natural sources of melatonin may help promote better sleep. Fruit and vegetables such as cherries, asparagus, tomatoes, grapes, and broccoli all have considerable amounts of melatonin, as do some nuts and seeds. Not only do they contain melatonin but they can help you feel satiated for longer, reducing snacking and potential weight gain as a result. To sufficiently increase your melatonin levels, why not start drinking tart cherry juice. According to University Health News, it significantly reduces insomnia severity.

Eating fish can also help break down the melatonin in foods. Well known for alleviating mental health and anxiety symptoms, eating fish such as salmon is an easy way to counter symptoms that are often exacerbated by sleep apnea. If you’re not a fan of seafood, try a supplement of omega-3 fatty acids or eat sweet potato, oatmeal or nuts. They contain complex carbohydrates which can help you feel sleepy in time for bedtime!

Foods to avoid

If you’re struggling with sleep apnea, a number one food to avoid is bananas. Though bananas are certainly yummy and full of nutrients, they contribute to an increased production of mucus which can exacerbate your symptoms. This is also the case for milk, cream, and fatty meats. Changing your diet to limit the consumption of these foods and other fatty foods can increase your sleep quality. Try to replace them in favour of low-fat substitutes and meats such as chicken and turkey to get the right amount of fat without impeding your chance of achieving a good night’s rest.

Changing what you eat alongside using a CPAP mask or machine may well increase your ability to sleep through the night and feel the benefits throughout the day. For other lifestyle changes you can make, see our other blog posts.

Photo: cherries by timlewisnm licensed under Creative commons 5

Can you travel with a CPAP machine?

If you’re planning on going on vacation, no matter what distance you are travelling, it is important to bring your CPAP machine with you. Whether you are staying in the country or travelling abroad, you deserve to have a good night’s sleep so you can make the most of your holiday. We have collected some useful tips and things to remember below, to ensure travelling with your CPAP machine is effortless.

1. Pack your CPAP machine safely

If you are travelling via car or train, ensure you pack your CPAP machine in its original case to stop it from getting damaged during the journey. You should then position the case in a secure spot, such as a luggage rack or between soft items in the back of a car.

2. Inform your airline

If you are travelling with your CPAP machine on a flight, check with your airline what their policy on CPAP machines is. Most airlines consider a CPAP machine medical equipment and allow you to keep your CPAP case with you during your flight in addition to any hand luggage. Do not be afraid to use your machine during the flight – it is better to wake up in your new destination refreshed than to suffer a sleepless journey.

3. Plan your accommodation in advance

While spontaneity can be exciting when it comes to something as important as your ability to sleep, it is better to plan in advance. Check that your accommodation, whether that be a family member’s house or a hotel, has a plug socket next to the bed and is a suitable environment for your CPAP machine. If you are travelling abroad, remember to bring a plug socket adaptor.

If you are still concerned you will be unable to use your CPAP machine in a new environment, pack an extension cord and battery pack with you to ensure you can still use your machine if the plug socket situation is not what it was promised to be.

As long as you plan your journey in advance and prepare for any small problems that may arise, there is no reason why you shouldn’t travel with your CPAP machine. For any more information about sleep apnea and CPAP machines, contact ApneaSeal today!

Photo: 16/365 by lioliz licensed under Creative commons 6
partners

5 tips for partners

There’s lots of information out there for people who are thinking of getting a CPAP Mask. But what if you are the partner of the snorer? How can you help them adjust to life with a CPAP Mask and get yourself some quality sleep in the process?

Be part of the conversation

Don’t leave it to your partner to choose the CPAP Mask, be a part of the conversation with medical professionals. If you take an active part in understanding the problem and the possible solutions, you will be able to help your partner to ensure the right mask is selected and the CPAP mask is fitted correctly and comfortably. Be a part of the decision on which mask to choose – try them on yourself and understand how they may impact how your partner sleeps.

Be patient and be prepared for setbacks

It will take some time for your partner to get comfortable sleeping with a mask. And the CPAP mask and machine may make noise that could continue to disrupt your sleep. It’s important to remember that it will take some time for your partner to get comfortable sleeping with a mask. You need to be patient and look at what they need to support the new normal – do they need a new type of pillow? What are they worried about with the machine? The noise? Getting tangled in their sleep? Be prepared for some trial and error.

Consider sleep headphones or earplugs

While the snoring may be fixed, the CPAP machine may continue to disrupt your sleep. If you are finding that the machine noise is not having a calming effect on you, consider investing in some sleep headphones or earplugs. Modern headphones can be synced to your smartphone and include an alarm to wake you in the morning.

Encourage healthy habits

There are some things that will make snoring more likely, like being overweight, smoking or excessive drinking. Encourage your partner to be active and eat a healthy diet to help manage sleep apnea symptoms.

If problems persist…

Sometimes no matter how carefully you select the CPAP mask, it just isn’t comfortable and neither you nor your partner is benefiting. Work with your partner’s medical professionals to give them feedback on what is and isn’t working about the CPAP mask and machine so that they can help you find the right solution.

lifestyle changes sleep apnea

4 lifestyle changes to improve your sleep apnea

If you have sleep apnea, you know just how obstructive it can be to your sleep. This condition is notorious for causing lethargy and sapping energy levels. While there are many treatments and equipment that can be used to improve sleep apnea and successfully treat the condition, it’s also important to make some lifestyle changes. To help you make a positive change, here are four lifestyle changes that can improve your sleep apnea.

Go to bed earlier

While your sleep apnea may get in the way of your sleep and make you dread bedtime, the worst thing you can do is avoid sleep. Try to get to bed at 9.30pm and give yourself lots of time to relax and fall into a natural sleep. The longer you are in bed, the more sleep you are likely to get.

Give up smoking

Smoking has been proven to aggravate the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. The chemicals and toxins in cigarettes inflame your airway, leaving you less room to breathe effectively at night. By quitting smoking you may be able to reduce the severity of your snoring and other symptoms while improving your overall health.

Lose weight

There is a direct correlation between excess weight and obstructive sleep apnea. Extra weight around your neck increases the force of gravity and places additional pressure on your airway. By loosing weight you can improve the severity of your sleep apnea symptoms, as well as unlocking a whole bunch of other great health benefits.

Give sedatives the flick when you have sleep apnea

While many people are prescribed sleeping pills or other sedatives to ensure a more sound sleep, these sleep aids can actually worsen sleep apnea. The same goes for alcohol, which also acts as a sedative. Sedatives relax your throat muscles and airway, resulting in more snoring and interrupted sleep.

Need more support for your sleep apnea? ApneaSeal has the solution! Our new generation technology uses 3D imaging and printing, facial scanning and custom-moulding techniques to create individualised masks for your CPAP therapy. If you are interested in a fitted mask for your sleep apnea machine, then contact the team at ApneaSeal today.

sleep apnea risks

Obstructive sleep apnea risks

As more scientists and researchers look into the causes and risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it is becoming clear that just about anyone can develop the condition. That said, there are a number of factors and habits that seem to increase the likelihood of someone developing OSA.

Sleep apnea risks in overweight or obese adults and teenagers

One of the key sleep apnea risks is increased pressure on the neck, and this is very common in those who are overweight or obese. Both adults and teens who are carrying around extra weight are at a far greater risk of developing OSA. In fact, of those who have sleep apnea, around 50% are also overweight.

Ageing adults

As we grow older, our sleep patterns change dramatically, and it has been proven that the risk of sleep apnea increases with age. That’s why it’s important that if you notice any changes in your sleeping habits or sleep quality, you are tested for OSA.

People who smoke

Those who smoke are at a far greater risk of suffering from OSA than others. In fact, recent studies have indicated that smokers are three times more likely to have sleep apnea than their non-smoking counterparts. This is because smoking causes fluid retention and inflammation in the upper airway, which encourages the onset of obstructive sleep apnea.

People with sleep apnea in the family

Some studies have suggested that sleep apnea is hereditary and can be passed down within families. This means that those with parents or family members who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea are at a higher risk of developing the condition themselves.

Children with enlarged or problematic tonsils

Children with enlarged tonsils or chronic tonsil problems (such as tonsillitis) also have a higher chance of developing sleep apnea. This is thought to be caused by the narrowing of the airways and inflammation in the throat.

If you suffer from OSA, contact ApneaSeal today. We use innovative face mapping technology to create a sleep apnea mask that fits your nose and face perfectly. Each sleep apnea mask is custom made to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep.