Have you been waking up feeling like you didn’t get quite enough sleep the night before? Have you been catching yourself falling asleep at random points during the day? Or has your partner been complaining about your snoring at night? If any of these are true, you should look into the possibility that you might have sleep apnea. Although almost 20 million Americans have sleep apnea, it can lead to more serious medical issue later on in life and is important to diagnose and take appropriate action to help alleviate the results of having sleep apnea. Additionally, with a CPAP machine, you’ll improve your overall quality of life by finally getting the good night’s sleep you deserve and you’ll be able to wake up feeling rested in the morning.
What is Sleep Apnea? What Can Happen If I Have It?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that happens when you sleep. In essence, your breathing stops or pauses for a short amount of time — usually a couple of seconds to minutes. It’s not enough to cause serious damage, but it does tend to disrupt your sleep; breathing will usually start up again with a choke, loud snore, or gargling sound (so it can also be quite disruptive if you share a bed or a room with someone else). Men are twice as likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women and people with asthma have a 40% greater risk of having sleep apnea than those who don’t have asthma.
Additionally, between two to four percent of Americans have sleep apnea that isn’t diagnosed, which is serious, because sleep apnea has been linked to cardiovascular issues. The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research reported that almost 40,000 deaths occur yearly because of cardiovascular problems that are linked to sleep apnea. That’s pretty serious! If sleep apnea patients don’t seek treatment, they’re four times as likely to have a stroke and three times as likely to have heart disease. So sleep apnea is definitely something you’ll want to get checked out to avoid long term consequences and help alleviate short term consequences, like being irritable or unfocused due to lack of sleep.
What are CPAP Machines?
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. CPAP machines are often used to help treat sleep apnea and now CPAP masks and CPAP nasal pillows are also available. The machine blows a continuous stream of air set at a specific pressure to the patient that flows through a hose to the mask. This helps keep the airway open and the person breathing regularly. The hose can be attached to a mask, nasal pillow, or hybrid of the two, depending on what the patient prefers and is most comfortable using.
Why You Really Need to Use the CPAP Machine
Although it’s been proven that patients who use CPAP machines have a better quality of life and get enough sleep, many give up on the machines — about half of those who are prescribed CPAP machines quit using it after one to three weeks. And about 80% don’t use them enough to keep them really safe. They can certainly take some getting used to and many people may feel hesitation at sleeping with a mask on. However, the best results come when patients use CPAP at least 70% of the time for a month, for a minimum of four hours per night. Some insurance companies may also only split the cost if patients are using them regularly.
If you choose to not use the CPAP machine, you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea but aren’t doing anything about it. Your risk for cardiovascular disease still remains high and you’ll still be getting interrupted sleep. Learning to adjust to a CPAP machine might take some doing, but after awhile, your body will adapt and you’ll see worthwhile results.
You should be proactive about your sleep apnea. Don’t think it’s something that’s just going to “go away.” You’ll feel more focused, awake, and may be less irritable during the day if you get enough sleep and can ward off heart disease later on down the road by taking action against your sleep apnea today.