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Side and stomach sleeping and a low-ish AHI

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beenSnorin +0 points · about 2 years ago Original Poster

I'm trying to decide whether to be fitted for a mask for a CPAP machine. My homestudy AHI by a sleep doctor was 11.7/hour. I start my nights sleeping on my side and later sleep some on my stomach, some on my side. I very rarely sleep on my back: once every few weeks, I may find myself on my back when I wake up. Will I see much benefit with a 11.7 AHI, and will any of the masks work okay for side and stomach sleeping?

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Sierra +0 points · about 2 years ago Sleep Patron

If you ask for a copy of the sleep report it should have the times or ratio of times that you sleep on your side, back, and stomach on it. Sleeping on your back is the easiest for using a CPAP, and side sleeping can be tolerated. Sleeping on your stomach with a mask on can be difficult.

With an AHI of 12 you are in the mild apnea category. A CPAP may still be the best option, but a dental appliance may also work for you. It should be easier to tolerate in all sleeping positions. I see there is a dentist contributing here, so perhaps they will comment. If you go the dental route you should discuss it with your doctor and dentist.

If you go the CPAP route, you are in the category where a fixed pressure CPAP might be prescribed. I would resist that, and insist on an automatic CPAP or APAP. There is little difference in the cost, and the APAP is more flexible. The ResMed AirSense A10 AutoSet is a very good choice. But, the mask could be your biggest issue - finding one that stays on and doesn't leak. Be sure to try different masks to see what works.

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beenSnorin +0 points · about 2 years ago Original Poster

Thanks, Sierra. I was thinking the dental appliance might be a reasonable alternative. I already use an upper and lower night guard so I'm used to plastic in my mouth. However, since I side and stomach sleep primarily, I wasn't sure whether jaw position would be central to the issue, and therefore whether a dental appliance would help. Yes, I'm hoping one of the dentists might reply as well.

I think my main issue might be nasal constriction and/or congestion. I don't have a left or right-specific restriction when I inhale, but pulling out on my nostrils definitely improves air flow on both sides. Seems to me CPAP/APAP would be more likely to help that than a dental appliance. Simpler might be Breathe Right strips; I just bought some to try out and see whether they help.

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Sierra +0 points · about 2 years ago Sleep Patron

I suffer from nasal congestion too. Must be allergies or something. In any case, what I find is that if I can get decongested before I put the mask on, I will stay that way all night. I use the ResMed P10 nasal mask, and I think the air flow directed to each nostril helps. With an AHI of 12 you probably will not need too much pressure from a CPAP and that certainly makes mask use easier. Almost for sure, a CPAP will reduce or stop the snoring. My snoring has gone from pretty bad to zero. The ResMed machines, and probably others measure snoring and use it to initiate pressure increases.

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snuzyQ +1 point · about 2 years ago Sleep Commentator

Hi beenSnorin,

CPAP is the most effective and least invasive of all the various treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. It is the first treatment of choice because, for most patients, it will reduce the AHI(Apnea/Hypopnea Index) to less than 5, which is considered to be ideal. Most folks without OSA normally have apneas at that level each night. Most CPAPpers lose their snoring (if they snore at all) completely. The trick in adapting to CPAP is to find ways to make oneself comfortable with this entirely new way of sleeping.

Our brains resent change from what it interprets to be the norm. We have been going to bed and settling into sleep at night for a number of years before our sleep apnea has been diagnosed. Our brains are deeply tied to this routine and are quite offended by the interruption that CPAP brings. Our chore, as CPAPpers, is to convince our brains, via repeated experience each night, that this is the new norm. We will sleep this way because we must, to avoid a slew of other serious health problems. And...eventually...we will sleep this way because this is the new norm and this is just the way we sleep now. We may even come to like it.

After 6 years of CPAP, I love it and can't even imagine sleeping any other way. I like the way it makes me feel in the morning when I wake up. I like the way my machine adjusts so beautifully to my natural breathing. I like being able to sleep without the thunderous snoring which disturbed my husband so much. When I catch a cold or flu, I love the way my nasal pillows mask clears my nasal passages and makes it easier for me to fall asleep and to stay asleep.

It may take from a day or two, to months to adapt to CPAP. Everyone is different. When committed and resourceful in finding ways to comfort one's therapy, the adjustment period is made much simpler and shorter. When I started using CPAP, I found it very useful to repeat this thought to myself: "My CPAP machine is really my very best friend and will be for the rest of my life. My body is going to love this. My brain will not at first, but that's OK. I'm going to continue anyway until my brain accepts that this is the new norm." And then, I just followed through with what seemed like endless troubleshooting over masks, hose and other needful adjustments.

I fiddled and I fussed and spent money, but it all paid off and within 3 weeks my therapy was humming along. I've never looked back. I believed then that I couldn't afford to and I still believe that. Everyone is different. What works for one may not work for another. It's trial and error.

Today, I have a snuggly for my hose and I extend my hose over my head with a hose buddy (one for my bed at home and a Travel hose buddy for the road) so that I can turn freely in my sleep without getting all tangled up. I gave up sleeping on my stomach. I have two lovely bedside stands that exactly meet the level of the top of my mattress so that I don't get rainout (condensation that can occur in an unheated hose). I use a dab of AYR gel, available at any drugstore) in each nostril before masking up to enhance the nasal pillows seal and to prevent sores from developing...and on and on. I found quite a few helpful hints on the Forum, which was then run by the ASAA (American Sleep Apnea Association). That Forum has since disbanded, but the site has an incredible array of very useful information.

Anyway...I wish you well on your sleep apnea journey. Keep checking in...there is always something new to learn (or so I'm finding). Take care.

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beenSnorin +0 points · about 2 years ago Original Poster

Thank you, snuzyQ, for the detailed presentation of how you adjusted to the machine!

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