This January 5th marks the 25th year of using a CPAP. I began using nasal pillows and abandoned the full mask within the first year of use. My wife is overjoyed with the reduction of noise from the CPAP and now treats it as positive because of the white noise effect. After all these years perhaps I can offer some advice to newbies.
For men, get rid of the idea that by using a CPAP your sex life is over. I have talked about this with a number of other men who have sleep apnea. With one exception, they have all found their partners to be very receptive to the fact that you have a controllable health condition that is going to make their act of sleeping with you far most restful. Enjoy the intimacy, kiss your partner good night, then put on the mask and head off to dream land.
For men and women, the claustrophobic effect of a full mask can be eliminated by the use of nasal pillows. The tossing and turning of restless sleep diminishes with the use of the CPAP. I begin my CPAP sleep with deep cleansing breaths while imagining my lungs filling with clean, filtered air that will work all night to restore my tired body. In your first year of CPAP use - especially if you use a heated humidifier and live on the Prairies - you will notice a dramatic decrease in the number of head colds. I tracked this for four years and experienced a 75% to 90 % drop in the number and severity of head colds. Once the CPAP becomes part of your healthy sleep pattern, you should find that the mouth stays closed at night to a much greater extent and you can shift to nasal pillows. Use a little psychology on yourself.
As one who travels frequently and enjoys tenting and travel, the smaller, lighter and lithium battery powered CPAP machines are a joy to use. On international flights to Europe and Asia, I can switch to battery mode and catch a few hours of rest, although I am a very light sleeper. Going through security, it is now a very rare occurrence to be asked to remove the mask from my carry-on baggage for inspection. Gate personnel now seem to accept CPAP's as common travel object. You do, however, have to be careful of putting the lithium ion or nicad batteries in your checked luggage. The batteries will trip an alarm and you will have to open your bags for inspection - a real pain when you are in a rush to make connections. Carry any spare batteries with you on to the plane and allow the gate security people to examine them directly. Incidentally, the vast majority of CPAPs now switch automatically from 110 V to 220. After blowing fuses on one CPAP and frying the circuitry on another, you can't imagine the relief I have now while traveling!
If you are contemplating the purchase of a CPAP and you are fortunate enough to have a choice of therapists, shop around a bit. Over he years I've run the gamut of therapists. A good therapist will spend a lot of time with you finding the right fit with machine AND mask. To me , they are equally important. A therapist who calls or emails you at home to find out how it is working, keeps you posted on advances in the field and positively reinforces you for the efforts you are making to adjust life as the masked marvel is a therapist you want to keep. The first question I always ask a new practitioner is "Have you spent a night wearing this mask with this machine?" A few have never tried to spend a night with something we will probably use for the rest of our lives.
Well, I could go on , but I hope these tips will be useful to those new to the sleep apnea world. I am absolutely certain that I would not be writing these words to you now if I had not begun i=using a CPAP 25 years ago .
I was one of those fortunate individuals who became accustomed to the mask the first night. As a Psychologist, I knew I had to play a 'head game' with myself to find a comfort level. Visual imagery is often extremely effective with my clients - especially with insomnia. So I used one on myself. I imagined that as soon as I slipped on the mask, a flow of cool clean healthy air would enter my body and begin an internal cleansing process. Circulation would increase, "'bad' air would be expelled, germs would be chased out to the kidneys, nasal passages would be soothed and decongested. The picture went on and on. I realize how childish this may seem to some, but the more I began to anticipate the moment when I could slip on the mask and start the war against bad humours in my body, the easier the game was to play. I would practise breathing deeply to "enhance the good" I would tell myself that I could feel the "good guys" doing their job. Convincing myself that putting on that mask was extending my future health was the best head game I have ever played. I sincerely hope it will work for you.
I had reflux problems for years and controlled it with pepscid. I twas always worse lying down, so I made certain not to snack before bed time and it helped. I now have no problems with acid reflux but I am still overweight. I really think diet control has much re to do with reflux than CPAP use.