Common Sleep Apnea Problems and How I Dealt with Them
Last updated: May 2022
I have lived with sleep apnea for several years now, and along my journey have run into several problems that you may or may not have faced yourself. The purpose of this article is to address how I worked through these problems and how you can do the same.
Anxiety is a common problem
The one factor that most people go with when they are first diagnosed with sleep apnea is anxiety. I admit that this was a big problem for me in the beginning. I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that I would need to wear this mask on my face each night.
I worked through my anxiety by trying to remain calm. I put my mask on each night even though I didn’t want to wear it. Allowing myself to give the mask and therapy an actual shot helped me through my anxiety.
Although I still felt anxious, this began to wane when I discovered how my CPAP therapy made me feel the next day. The mask was still a pain, but I was sleeping better and feeling a lot more confident that I could actually wear this contraption on my face each night.
Keep trying if you still have anxiety, speak to your sleep therapist, or visit a sleep apnea forum for some tips.
The mask from hell
Oh, the mask. We do hate the mask, don’t we? For me, it’s the heat produced by wearing the darn thing that makes me so uncomfortable. In the winter, it’s not too bad, but by the time spring and summer come around, it’s a nightmare.
No amount of turning the pillow over, fans, adjusting the mask, or trying to remain calm removes the heat from that blasted mask.
I suffered a great deal until I discovered a neat little trick. I reduce the mask heat by placing a cooling gel pad under my pillow. This is the same type you would use on a bruised knee. My head and face stay cool enough from the gel pad to allow me to go to sleep. Then, if I wake up at night and feel hot, I replace the gel pad with a fresh one. This gives me relief every night, no matter what.
Allow bad days to happen
We all have bad days. No amount of preparation, trying to remain calm, or putting the mask on without fail each night can prepare you for the bad days when things don’t feel right. I allow those bad days to happen.
Some nights I throw my mask off in frustration, but I don’t quit altogether. Instead, I allow myself some breathing room and just accept the fact that tonight the mask may not work for me.
I try to put my mask on all of the time, but on occasion, it doesn’t work. I’m not perfect and take that bad day in stride. It’s like cheating on your diet. You do it, but you go back to it the next day. I don’t punish myself; I move on. I try again.
Missteps and mishaps – help I’m drowning!
CPAP machines aren’t fail-proof, as mechanical problems can occur. One of the common problems with the machines is a failing water tank. This happened to me a few days ago as my water tank failed, and I got water all over my nightstand.
Thankfully, my sleep specialist was able to send me a new water tank in a couple of days. After that, I slept ok without my machine, and I’m thankful that my sleep provider responds quickly whenever I have an issue.
The critical point is to not panic when mechanical problems occur. Your provider is there to help you, so give them a call even if the issue seems minor. They will help you if you need assistance. Check your hoses for leaks, make sure the tank is working, and let them know when you have a problem.
My conclusion – you are not alone
I’m sure that most people have had one or more of these common issues. CPAP therapy isn’t without its faults, so keep a level head when problems occur and talk to your sleep therapist or leave a message in one of the helpful CPAP forums. There’s plenty of great people out there to help you with your issues. As sleep apnea patients, we have all been there and done that.
How do you deal with common sleep apnea problems? Tell us your tips for coping with a CPAP.
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