Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the world, with nearly 30 million American adults experiencing this condition. Yet despite its potentially serious side effects, the vast majority of individuals who suffer from this condition remain undiagnosed and unaware that there is anything they can do to address their fatigue.
Sleep apnea describes a condition where your breathing can become shallow or even stop entirely for brief periods while you’re asleep. This is caused by blockages to the airway during sleep, and often result in the individual snoring or waking up gasping for breath.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this condition can significantly disrupt your ability to get a full night’s rest, which can have serious long-term consequences. Thankfully, with the help of a sleep apnea machine, you can enjoy improved sleep and a better overall quality of life.
Sleep Apnea or CPAP Machines Are The First Line of Defense
A sleep apnea machine (or CPAP machine) is typically the first recommended form of treatment after a doctor has made a diagnosis of sleep apnea. Doctors actually write prescriptions for CPAP machines, similar to how you’d receive a prescription for an over-the-counter medication. A sleep apnea machine is actually defined as durable medical equipment (or DME) because it is meant to be used continually over an extended period of time.
There are actually three types of sleep apnea machines: CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), BiPAP (or BiLevel), and AutoPAP. As the American Sleep Apnea Association explains, “Generally, CPAP is prescribed first and then if patient is not successful, more expensive Auto or BiLevel is tried.”
With proper maintenance, the average CPAP machine is designed to provide anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours of effective sleep support, though the masks typically need to be replaced every few months. Those worried about how such devices could affect their budget can find relief in the fact that the majority of sleep apnea machine purchases are at least partially covered by insurance.
How Do They Work?
A standard sleep apnea machine is designed to provide a steady, continuous flow of pressure to the user’s airways. The patient will place a nosepiece or mask on their face, allowing air to be delivered at a set pressure via a hose that connects to the actual device. Wearing a mask as you sleep at night can understandably take some getting used to, which makes it important to select a size and fit that will be comfortable for you.
The use of a heated hose helps prevent condensation buildup, while three different types of masks are available to help patients find the most comfortable fit. Full-face masks cover both the mouth and nose and are often used for those who breathe through their mouth. Nasal pillows utilize small tubes that go directly into the nostrils and are often used by individuals with facial hair or those who move around a lot during sleep. Nasal masks cover the nose entirely and can provide greater air pressure than nasal pillows.
With a standard CPAP device, the same level of air pressure is supplied during both inhalation and exhalation. Patients who still don’t get the desired results from a standard sleep apnea machine may be switched to a BiPAP or AutoPAP machine instead. BiPAP models vary the air pressure delivered to the patient, with higher pressure used when the patient inhales and lower pressure applied when the patient exhales. AutoPAP systems automatically adjust pressure throughout the night using factors such as airway size, sleep stage, and airflow.
Regardless of which type of sleep apnea machine you use, the basic functionality is the same. These machines use a small, quiet motor or compressor that pulls in air from the room and pressurizes it before delivering it through the hose. The intake area also uses an air filter that traps dust and other air pollutants to further facilitate a good night’s rest; this filter should be replaced on a routine basis.
To determine which mask variety and level of air pressure is right for you, many patients actually sleep at a specialized clinic where doctors can determine which setup will work best before making a final prescription.
How Do They Help Me Sleep Better?
Regardless of the type of sleep apnea machine you use to get a quality night’s rest, they all serve the same basic purpose: preventing the collapse or blockage of your upper airway while you’re asleep. This ensures that you’ll be able to breathe properly and not experience interruptions to your sleep.
It is worth noting that there are some mild sleep apnea machine side effects, such as dry mouth or nasal congestion, but most newer models avoid this problem with the help of a built-in humidifier. It also isn’t unusual to experience some initial discomfort or slight claustrophobia as you get used to wearing a mask at night, which makes choosing a comfortable fit absolutely essential.
It is also important to remember that these machines don’t “cure” sleep apnea. Instead, they serve as an effective form of therapy that puts a stop to your symptoms — similar to how individuals with other conditions need to take medication every day of their lives to keep their health in check. Should you stop using your CPAP machine, your symptoms will return.
Overall, however, using a sleep apnea machine can result in significant changes that will dramatically improve your quality of life. Here’s a look at how ensuring that your body has a clear, unrestricted path for air to flow will benefit your overall well-being.
1. Sleep Longer, Allowing Your Body to Rest
One of the most common side effects of sleep apnea is waking up gasping for breath after your airways become constricted in the middle of the night. Though these incidents often only last for a few seconds, they can have a serious impact on your body’s ability to get a full night’s rest, especially if you struggle to fall back asleep afterward.
It is recommended that the average adult get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but sleep apnea can keep you from getting these needed hours. The relationship between sleep apnea and sleep deprivation is especially problematic, as each condition can cause the other to worsen.
Failure to get enough sleep can result in several serious physical and mental consequences. In the short term, it can have a significant impact on your ability to perform at work or in other functions. As WebMD reports, “Reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32 percent.”
The increased drowsiness that stems from a lack of sleep greatly increases your risk for physical injury. Recent studies have found that nearly 10 percent of all automotive crashes in the United States is a direct result of drowsy driving. The risk of a workplace accident also increases when you don’t get enough sleep.
Using a sleep apnea machine will allow you to get the full seven to nine hours of rest that you need each night, ensuring that your body doesn’t enter the dangerous cycle of sleep debt.
2. Enjoy Higher-Quality Sleep
Many individuals who suffer from sleep apnea find that while they may get the recommended number of hours of sleep each night, they still feel tired in the morning. This is because sleep apnea doesn’t just affect how many hours you sleep — it also impacts the quality of your rest.
The National Sleep Foundation uses several guidelines to define what it determines to be “quality sleep,” including falling sleep in less than half an hour and not waking up more than once during the night. Many who suffer from sleep apnea fail to get quality sleep because their condition causes them to wake up several times during the night — even if they aren’t always aware of it the next morning.
In addition to the consequences that can occur due to a lack of sleep, low-quality sleep can cause several additional issues. Poor sleep can result in trouble concentrating, increased irritability and fatigue, feelings of anxiety or depression, memory problems, and even a decreased sex drive. Some of these issues can begin to impact your daily routine after a single night of poor sleep.
With the use of a sleep apnea machine, your body’s airways will always be supplied with the right amount of pressure, putting a stop to the incidents that disrupt your sleep during the night. This way, you’ll be able to wake up feeling fully refreshed in the morning, as you will have slept soundly through the night.
3. Lower Chances of Health Problems
Sleep apnea has been connected with a wide range of negative health consequences that can be directly avoided by using a CPAP machine, including increased blood pressure and a greater risk of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Such health problems are further complicated by the fact that sleep apnea has also been connected to weight gain. Frequent disruptions to sleep disrupt the body’s hormone production, which can actually increase an individual’s appetite. As an individual becomes increasingly overweight, their sleep apnea worsens, as does their risk for these other serious health conditions.
When combined with other healthy behaviors, the use of a sleep apnea machine can significantly lower your chances of developing these problems. By sleeping soundly through the night, you won’t experience spikes in blood pressure or disruptions in hormone production, nor will you have to deal with the mental consequences of fatigue.
In addition to using a CPAP machine, you can also reduce your risk of sleep apnea-related health problems by exercising and improving your diet so you can maintain a healthy weight (obesity is one of the primary risk factors for sleep apnea). Stopping the use of alcohol and tobacco products can also improve your sleep quality and reduce your risk for other negative health issues.
4. Improve Your Overall Long-Term Health
Long-term, untreated sleep apnea will result in severe consequences. As the American Sleep Apnea Association explains, “Mortality risks have been shown in clinical research to be higher in those who have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea disrupts circadian rhythms, imbalances body, and brain chemistry, interrupts cardiac and respiratory function, elevates blood pressure, and speeds up the heart’s rate. When allowed to continue, untreated, it absolutely will lead to higher mortality for those who don’t treat it.”
While a temporary blockage of your respiratory system during the night won’t kill you, the related side effects can dramatically alter your long-term well-being. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea are significantly more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke, and the risk of death due to these incidents also increases among those who suffer from sleep apnea.
Studies have also shown that the more severe one’s sleep apnea symptoms, the greater their risk of suffering these serious long-term health consequences. The anxiety and weariness that stem from several sleepless nights can also develop into a more serious form of depression, significantly limiting one’s ability to enjoy a normal, happy life.
These long-term health consequences present perhaps the most compelling argument for using a sleep apnea machine. Though it may seem annoying or inconvenient to use a CPAP machine each night to help you breathe properly, these devices can literally add several years to your life.
Not only will using a sleep apnea machine decrease your mortality risk; it can also ensure that you experience great health during the coming years so you can fully enjoy your life. In fact, the use of these devices has even been found to reverse some of the mental health consequences of sleep apnea, leading to dramatic improvements in individual well-being.
With the help of a sleep apnea machine, you can say goodbye to restless nights and get the quality sleep you need to enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life. While it is always necessary to start by consulting a medical professional regarding your struggles with sleep apnea, it is clear that these machines can lead to significant improvements in your overall well-being — and help you avoid significant health consequences.Here at Help Medical Supplies, you can purchase a CPAP machine and everything else you need to get better sleep and transform your life for the better. Check out our online store to learn more about the many bundles and machine varieties we offer. We’re confident you’ll find a solution that will work for your lifestyle and deliver the outcomes you need.