You have to turn the machine off for it to count as a "Mask off." If you take your mask off without turning off the machine, it will simply be a mask leak as far as MyAir is concerned. You will always get at least one mask off, because turning it on counts as one. Basically, every time you start the machine it counts as a mask off event. Turn it on @ 10:00 PM, that's one. Turn it off @ 5:00, then turn it back on @ 5:30, that's two. And so on. It seems to roll over and start a new day @ 12:00 Noon. I don't pay attention to the stat much, as the numbers I'm concerned about are events, hours of use, and mask seal.
Sometimes I think I do, and sometimes not. I know I was really drowsy the first few weeks on CPAP, which I'm not so much anymore. I take more naps now. I don't wake up gasping for air anymore, which is a huge plus. On balance, I'd say I don't feel better or worse. I was surprised by the diagnosis, as the only symptom I'd had was the waking up gasping, but other than that, I always felt good.
Like you, I found the sleep test to be awful, and the CPAP, while not as bad, was still very uncomfortable. It took me several weeks to get used to the mask, and I still take a lot longer to fall asleep than I used to. But my numbers went from the mid-30s to under 3, so I suppose that's a success.
My experience for whatever it's worth: I'm a side sleeper by (strong) preference, but I notice when I do sleep on my side the leak number skyrockets, and when I wake up A) the air pressure seems really high (10 - 12), and B) the mask, although attached properly, is leaking, in part because the pressure from the machine is so high it's pushing the mask away from my face creating small leaks. If I sleep on my back I don't have the problem of leaks, although I find it uncomfortable.
Your experience is a lot like mine (click on my name to see my posts on the topic), except I had to do it for work-related reasons. What I can say is after about 3-4 weeks, the daytime drowsiness went away. I think the quality of sleep is worse than it was before the CPAP, as you get acclimated to the mask and machine, and then once you do, your sleep patterns return to normal. Taking a long nap each day helped me to get over the hump, although I don't know if that's doable for you.
Hope things work out.
I am a big believer in naps. I just don't like it when I feel so drowsy I HAVE to nap, and a 2 hour nap after 7 hours of sleep is excessive. Fortunately that isn't happening anymore.
I had few problems getting used to the airflow, but I dislike the feeling of wearing it. I have a nasal mask, and it gets sweaty at the seal. The mask also makes it difficult to sleep on my side, which was my preferred position. I'm now, after ~ 6 weeks, able to sleep on my back. I had severe apnea, and while the CPAP immediately reduced my AHI from mid-30s to 2.6 or so, I found the quality of my sleep worse. I used to never feel groggy, but once on CPAP I had to take naps all the time. I'm now more comfortable with it, and I think the quality of my sleep has improved immensely, to the point where I think it's better than it was before, and my daytime naps are down from ~2 hours to about 20 - 40 minutes. But, although I'm more used to the mask, I still find it uncomfortable, and often take it off after about 6 hours (needed for insurance purposes) and go back to sleep. That sleep, too feels better than it used to. I used to have apnea-like events (a snore - snort) even while awake; those went away literally as soon as I started using the machine. I think the pressure from the machine's airflow forced some of the tissues in my throat to retract or something.
Overall, I think the CPAP was good for me, but I'm doing everything I can, lose weight, exercise more, and so on, to get rid of it. I find it uncomfortable, and think I always will. But what I really dislike is the feeling that normal, primal functions -- breathing and sleeping -- are dependent on a machine. It's profoundly disturbing to me.
It takes me 15 - 30 minutes to fall asleep (before CPAP it took maybe 10), and I sleep at night and take a nap each day. So I subtract out that time from the MyAir numbers and then redo the division in my head. As long as the result is under 5 (it averages about 3), I really don't care about the rest. The MyAir numbers are pretty crude, but my assumption is they want to keep things as simple as possible to get and keep as many people using the machine as they can, without loading them down with information.
This used to happen to me all the time, starting about a year ago. I didn't really have other symptoms of apnea that I noticed except occasionally waking up gasping for air. Since I've been on CPAP, about 3 weeks, the waking obstructive events entirely stopped, although I don't know why (strengthened throat muscles because of the constant air pressure? The air pressure forcing a widening of the air passages?). I question if it's true apnea, because since you're awake and can consciously breathe to overcome it your breathing never actually stops, which you don't do when you're asleep, but the events seem highly related: if it's happening when you're awake, it's probably happening when you're asleep, but even more severely.
To update, I've had 2 more good nights of sleep with mask leak well under 24l/min. I even had my lowest AHI ever, at 1. I did nothing different that I'm aware of, it just stopped, although I have found the mask less uncomfortable in the last couple of days, so maybe I was picking at it in my sleep, and with the decrease in discomfort, stopped doing that. I'm still getting a little drowsy during the day, but I'm hoping with time that goes away. Thanks to everyone who replied with your advice and encouragement.