One of the things that makes CPAP TotalCare unique, is we ask, listen, and respond.
- We ask patient’s questions and listen to their answers.
- We ask clinicians and advisers if we are on the right track and take action based on their feedback.
- We participate in social media, read forums, and talk to patients.
Here is one thing we’re hearing, loud and clear…
Many CPAP users are using their CPAP but still tired all the time.
Here is the honest truth about CPAP therapy in the United States… the entire ecosystem is, for the most part focused on the wrong thing.
When you really get down to it, all anyone seems to care about is ‘compliance’ with the therapy. In other words most providers see the goal of therapy as one thing: usage. As long as you are using your machine, that’s success — end of story.
But that’s not the the point is it? The whole point of CPAP therapy is BETTER SLEEP!
And just using CPAP does not always guarantee better sleep, in fact some CPAP users might even feel that their sleep is worse with CPAP than it is without. They are using CPAP but still tired all the time.
CPAP Changes your Sleep Patterns, 100% Of The Time
Sleep apnea is a unique condition because you can’t see it. You can’t observe apnea events happening in your own body because they happen while you are asleep! Because of this sleep apnea sufferers are not aware of snoring, disrupted breathing and the resulting fragmented or poor sleep.
When you have untreated sleep apnea, you are so completely exhausted from night after night of inadequate sleep that you “seem” to fall asleep easily. Of course even when you fall into sleep almost immediately, it is often a poor, damaged sleep that leaves you tired and foggy during the day.
When you begin treatment, you might find that CPAP makes falling asleep difficult and suddenly begin to experience some degree of insomnia. This can be very discouraging if your experience prior to treatment was that you slept almost immediately. And now treatment seems to make falling asleep and staying asleep challenging and frustrating. Although you may find falling asleep difficult with CPAP, once asleep CPAP helps you progress through the four stages of sleep and sleep quality is greatly improved.
Of course, insomnia is only one possible issue that might be causing you to feel tired while using CPAP. It may be that your settings are wrong, pressure is too high, or your mask is uncomfortable or leaking. Any number of equipment-related issues might be causing you to get less-than-optimum sleep. If your CPAP wakes you up every morning at 3am because the pressure ramps up too quickly, it’s hard to get good quality sleep. If your mask is blowing air into your eye all night, it’s hard to get good quality sleep. You find yourself using CPAP but still tired all the time — not the outcome you would hope for.
Fortunately, most of these issues can be resolved. With a few simple steps most people can sleep noticeably better than they have ever slept. And with good quality sleep every element of physical, emotional and cognitive health is properly supported. Sleep is the foundation of good health.
Any Willing CPAP User Can Optimize Their Sleep
As stated above, there are steps you can take to optimize your sleep. What we refer to as ‘Sleep Optimization’ for CPAP users includes these five key elements…
- CPAP Therapy Optimization
- CPAP is a complex therapy and, unfortunately, many CPAP users are left on their own after the first few weeks of therapy are over. Equipment settings adjustments, humidification improvement, mask alternatives, equipment upgrades… all of these things might be required to make your CPAP as effective and comfortable as possible.
- Weight Loss
- Being overweight makes your airway narrower which not only makes your sleep apnea worse, it also means that you will require higher pressures while on CPAP to keep your airway sufficiently open to prevent apnea events. If you lose even a relatively small amount of weight, you may be able to significantly reduce your required pressures and get a much better night’s sleep.
- Soft Palate Yoga
- One of the core causes of sleep apnea, besides excess weight, is loss of muscle tone in your soft palate (the back part of the roof of your mouth). This is a natural part of aging. As we get older, we lose muscle tone. What you see on the outside is true on the inside as well, at least as far as your soft palate is concerned. And just like your outside muscles, you can tone your soft palate through exercise. A toned soft palate means a more open airway, and much more comfortable therapy for you.
- Sleep Improvement Techniques
- High quality sleep is more attainable than you might think. There are simple changes you can make, starting tonight, that will increase the quality of your sleep immediately. Small changes in sleep habits or environment can have a big positive impact on your sleep.
- Sleep improvement techniques include training in deep relaxation, breathing techniques that trigger the relaxation response, desensitization exercises that diminish the sensations of CPAP therapy, protocols to reduce nervousness and anxiety, and methods of effectively producing natural melatonin and normalize sleep schedules and rhythms.
- Engagement, Support, Tracking & Accountability
- Beyond anything mentioned above, your willingness to engage in a process to improve your sleep is the most important element of success. If you are engaged in the process, have the support you need, track your results in some way (like keeping a sleep journal), and set realistic goals, you will find that better sleep is easily within your grasp.
We will be sharing tips and information about all of these topics on this blog over the coming weeks and months.
Also, we’re very excited about a new project we are starting to create a complete eHealth Sleep Optimization program for CPAP users. It will be an interactive self-guided program built on our eHealth platform with support and guidance from qualified CPAP coaches and sleep specialists. You will hear more about that soon as well.
For now, we would love to hear from you in the comments below. What is your sleep quality like while using CPAP? What specific challenges are you facing (or have you faced)? What advice can you give to CPAP users who might be facing these challenges?
Update: Thanks for all of the great comments and shares Although, it is difficult to hear about the frustrations and challenges people are facing, it also tells us we are on the right track. We’re also learning a lot about the specific issues CPAP users are facing.
If you think we are on the right track, please share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any of the other social networks you see on the share buttons to your left. We aim to make sure CPAP users have a place to go when they are faced with sleep quality issues. Please help us by sharing this post (and commenting below, of course).
Also, if you are a CPAP user, please consider joining our team of beta testers. You can learn more here…
Update: Since making this post, we have created a stand-alone eLearning course called the “Better Sleep Course” – The 5 Part Video Course for Sleepy People.
Through a series of 5 video chapters you will…
- Assess your starting “Better Sleep Score”
- Create the ideal sleep environment
- Develop positive and effective lifelong sleep habits
- Learn relaxation and meditation techniques to reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep
- Assess your ending “Better Sleep Score”
Each of the five chapters include information/education, and simple actions you can take to finally start getting the deep, restful sleep you want and need. Learn more here… http://bettersleepcourse.com/