I didn’t understand what sleep apnea was before I was diagnosed with it. All I knew is that I was damn tired during the day, and no amount of sleep seemed to cure it. I had headaches and would often fall asleep in my chair when writing. I would even fall asleep looking at my phone or drinking a cup of coffee. What the hell was I going through? It turns out I have Sleep Apnea. This is where breathing repeatedly stops and starts when you sleep. Loud uncontrollable snoring is often a symptom. The number of pillows thrown at me, severe leg kicks given, to me by my wife, and the couch banishment was an indication that something was wrong.
Thankfully, you can control Sleep Apnea to a wide degree with a CPAP machine. It’s a mask attached to a hose which goes into a machine and gives you air at night. This keeps the airway open and allows you to have a restful sleep. I feel much better during the day and never fall asleep in the daytime. I go to bed at regular hours, and my wife sleeps through the night without any snoring form me at all! Yay for my sleep apnea machine. There is a big problem for most people. The mask is VERY hard to get used to. Here is how you do that and how you can get the most out of your machine.
Talk to Your Sleep Specialist
When you have Sleep Apnea, you’ll work with a sleep specialist. These professionals understand the CPAP system and will help set you up with the machine and mask. There are several different masks to try out. Some go over the entire face, while others just g over the nose. You should try several of them out to see what one you like the best. At first, you will absolutely hate them as it’s a big change. You need to wear the thing all night, and it has a big hose attached to it. The air is cold, and the machine can make some noise. Pick out a mask you lie and try it out. You don’t have to settle on that one mask as the specialist can give you something else to try.
Using Your Mask for the First Time
Dealing with a new medical condition is frightening. It’s even more so when you wear something that looks like the breathing apparatus Darth Vader uses in his chamber. My wife does call it my “Darth Vader” mask. Take the mask home and try putting it one for several minutes to see how it feels. I can tell you that when I first wore mine, I TORE IT OFF! It was hell trying to get used to it. I use a simple nasal mask, but even that was very hard to wear.
Give Yourself Time
The thing is, you nee dot give it a lot of time. The mask is designed to t help you sleep and to control your sleep apnea. You have to try the mask and let yourself get used to it. You may tear it off a few times at night, but that is ok. I still tear mine off from time to time. Over the past year of wearing my mask, it now feels comfortable, and it’s second nature for me to put it on. It will take several months to a year before you really feel comfortable with it. In some cases, you may never feel truly comfortable with it. The mask is a trade-off. You feel better and have improved health, or you live with sleep apnea and the possible health implications it may bring. It’s a decision you’ll have to make.
Relax When You Put the Mask On
When you put the mask on, allow yourself to relax. Breathe slowly into it and just keep yourself calm. The mask can be hot, so you may want a nice cooling pillow or sheets to sleep on. I even use an ice pack under my pillowcase in the summer as it’s just too difficult to wear the mask when you’re hot. I find relaxation is the key to getting used to the mask. It’s hard, but you can do it. Make sure the mask is snug but not too tight. The machine will let you know if you’re not using it right.
The more often you use the mask, the better it gets, and you’ll get the sleep you need. Sleep Apnea robs you of the sleep your body needs to function at its best. The mask is there to restore your sleep and in some cases, your sanity. I’ve learned to live with my mask. There are days I HATE IT, but my sleep is more important, and it’s vital to my health. Keep trying, and you’ll eventually find the right mask. If you still have problems talk to your sleep specialist or ask about other alternative treatments to your Sleep Apnea.