By Kim Wetmore
We all know how difficult it can be to become accustomed to using a CPAP machine every night. It truly takes time and a patience to get used to CPAP therapy, but the benefits are immeasurable to those who are successful with their treatment, and those benefits can be experienced even after the first full night’s use. It is important to remember not to be too hard on your self, and that not only the CPAP machine is needed to get that good night’s sleep. Taking care of your general sleep hygiene, or good practices, is just as important. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Maintain a regular sleep and wake time. A good sleep pattern is important to feeling refreshed, so make sure to go to bed at the same time every night and try to get up at the same time every morning.
- Use the bedroom for sleeping only. Remove distractions such as the computer or television.
- Keep the bedroom cool, dark and quiet. This will help reinforce the sleep environment.
- Try not to eat up to 2 hours before bedtime. Sometimes a full stomach can cause other discomforts that may keep you awake. Heartburn is one of these possible distractions.
- Try to avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Any stimulant is made to energize, and therefore will give you the opposite effect you’re looking for when attempting to go to sleep.
- Exercising 3 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. The positive effects of exercise are obvious in so many ways, but it is important not to exercise to close to bedtime. Time to settle down is necessary.
Finally, “desensitization” is a very effective method to being able to sleep with your CPAP machine. This method involves wearing your CPAP mask longer tonight than you did last night until you wear it every night all night long. One way to start is to wear the mask for 20-30 minutes before you are ready to get to sleep. Then, the feeling of the mask becomes less and less invasive. Even if you start at 15 minutes on the first night of therapy, keep at it. Make sure the next night is 30 minutes and the night after that is 45 minutes. Your sleep apnea did not develop over night, so you cannot expect to dive into treatment and be accustomed to it over night either.