After a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure machine. The thought of using the apparatus, with all its tubes, masks, knobs, buttons, lights, humidifiers and such, every time you sleep from now till eternity can be pretty daunting. The side effects of the treatment are easy to find and your doctor will surely outline most of them to you.
However it’s worth pointing out the benefits of the CPAP machine. Here’s a list of what you can look forward to and why you have become a “hose head”
Benefits of the CPAP machine
Lower Blood Pressure – OSA causes you to stop breathing momentarily, often hundreds of time during the night. An extreme case will result in massive loss of oxygen to your body. The cardio system relies on a regular supply of oxygen from the lungs to the heart. If the heart has to work harder with less oxygen, then your blood pressure goes up.
Elevated BP is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It is the main reason why sufferes of OSA have such a higher rate of mortality compared with non-sufferers. The CPAP machine will deliver more air to your lungs and lead to a reduced blood pressure. It is the single most important reason for using the machine.
More alert and fewer day time naps – The interrupted sleep associated with sleep apnea obviously leads to less rest during the night. It can often feel like you get barely any shut eye at during a long night while every body else is dreaming peacefully.
Your body needs a certain amount of rest every day - the sleep apnea prevents this and you try to compensate by slowing down brain function and causing naps during the day. If you can get more sleep at night, then the reverse will occur. Brain function will improve and you may be more productive and better at your job.
Reduced or eliminate depression – More rest at night will increase your emotional stability. Life just doesn’t seem as tough when your body can use the night time for what it’s for. Time spent awake during the night can all to be easily lead to anxiety and a viscous circle of depressive thoughts. The chance to fall off quickly and regularly can break this cycle and lead to a much happier life in general.
Many surveys have confirmed that people who use CPAP state that they have a superior quality of life when compared to what they used to put up with prior to their treatment.
Lose your temper less – A well rested person will have better control over their temper. Poor sleep will leave you with elevated levels of adrenalin and a lower stress threshold.
Do you find that you get angry with workmate, your kids or spouse because you haven’t been getting enough sleep? It’s a very common complaint. More sleep will improve your relationships with those who are most important to you. As will waking up without dry, sludgy eyes or a splitting headache. Starting off the day well makes a huge difference to the outcome of the rest of your life.
More energy – Sleep is when your body concentrates on repairing itself. A restless, unproductive night will leave you physically under-prepared for the day. In addition OSA sufferers will have not absorbed oxygen in sufficient quantities to allow the body to process essential nutrients during the night.
The first response of many people on first using the CPAP machine is how much more energy they have. It’s like returning to sea level from high altitude. More oxygen in the body and hence blood stream and organs means more energy the next day. It can be a life changing difference and one that shouldn’t be avoided.
Lessen your risk of car accident – People with untreated or undiagnosed OSA have been shown by scientific studies to be at much higher risk of a car accident. The daytime sleepiness and general loss of alertness brought on by an interrupted poor night’s sleep makes you more dangerous on the road. It is estimated that sleep apnea sufferers are 15 times more likely to be involved in an accident. Passengers, other drivers and pedestrians are at the same higher risk when a sufferer is behind the wheel. CPAP treatment is one of the best methods of protecting the safety of your children is you have sleep apnea, because you are less likely to hurt them in an accident.
Better concentration during the day – The brain uses REM dreams to recharge it batteries, “file away” what happened during the previous day and prepare for the day ahead. It takes two hours of unconsciousness before it is ready to enter this phase. Apnea sufferers, who stop breathing so regularly and wake up so often may never enter this phase.
When sleep is interrupted, the brain may not get a full chance to perform these necessary functions. This is why our brains can be muddled, groggy and our ability to concentrate is poor after a restless night Allow the brain to achieve the state it needs and the symptoms will reverse.
Medical expenses – Beyond the initially appointments at the specialist and cost of the CPAP machine and finding a comfortable nasal of facial mask, the life time cost of medical care for obstructive SA treatment will be less than no treatment at all. Diagnosed sufferers go to the doctor less and will have fewer severe health problems in the long term. Your annual costs will reduce and insurance premiums may drop as your underlying health improves once treatment is well underway. So there is a financial benefit as well as a mental and physical health pluses involved in the CPAP treatment.
Less Snoring – the opened airways that the CPAP machine will force from its use will directly reduce the volume of your snoring. It can be hard to tell how loud your own snoring really is, because we are generally asleep during its worst effects.
Your sleeping partner will benefit though and leave them with a better more relaxing night. There can often be feelings of resentment brought on by the lack of sleep caused by this snoring so chances are your relationship with your significant other will improve as well! If they currently sleep somewhere else they may even return to your bed.
Sleep through the night – Possibly the greatest benefit of the CPAP machine is the relaxing feeling of sleeping through the night. For an OSA sufferer the last solid eight hours of rest that everybody else takes for granted can be a distant memory.
This continual level of unconsciousness doesn’t happen for everyone on the treatment, but most will see an almost immediate level of improvement. Many patients even get sore body parts and pins and needles in their limbs because there bodies have forgotten to naturally move and roll over during the night. The most beneficial dream state – REM doesn’t occur until 2 hours into a rest period so this is the level to aim for initially.