a close up view of a woman's face wearing a CPAP mask that is making a whistling noise producing music notes

Whistling Through the Night

My AutoPAP is the best of things and sometimes the worst of things.

I got it about 2 years ago – almost to the day – and remember how difficult it was trying out the different masks to find the least uncomfortable one. The sleep technologist knew right away that the DreamWear under nasal pillow mask was the one, but I tried another one just in case. I haven’t changed it since.

I have trouble sleep with or without CPAP

I only breathe at night through my nose, so a mask that covered my mouth was moot. As anyone prescribed the dreaded CPAP, though, it is always the hose that gets in the way of things.

Even with narcolepsy and the ability to fall asleep under a minute flat, my conscious/unconscious brain often makes me feel awake even though my brain is asleep.

Moreover, I toss and turn each night because I sleep on my side, which inevitably makes my arms numb due to nerve compression in my shoulders. Needless to say, I have trouble sleeping with or without the CPAP.

My CPAP is a lifesaver and a constant struggle

I use my CPAP every night so long as I am home and often travel with it, even for short trips away. Even though my sleep apnea has been very mild (1-3 AHI/night), I have found my migraines are less and I don’t suffer the days as much as without it. It’s been a lifesaver in many ways, but always a constant struggle.

Allergies and obstructed nasal passages

Recently, I found that having significant allergies have made the nasal mask so much more the fun. If I forget to perform the nightly (and daily) routines of nasal hygiene, the stuffiness is beyond measure.


My nasal passages are ___________

Whistling Dixie

As I lay my head down to sleep, the soft whistling of the obstructed nasal passages blows through each breath. Even attempts to clear such a blockage are out of the question. If I don’t cleanse the way well before the head hits the pillow, that’s it, folks – whistling Dixie all night long!

If I wasn’t so sensitive to sounds, or the blowing of air on my face or any of it, this would be nothing more than an amusing annoyance for someone sleeping next to me (if they managed to sneak into the bedroom).

If you too suffer from allergies, I recommend ensuring you have a talk with your allergist on good nasal hygiene. I can give some basic tips and tricks, but by no means am I recommending this as medical advice.

My nasal hygiene routine

For me, washing my nose and clearing the sinuses are key to a whistle-free nose. Saline rinses help to clear stuffy passages. To keep from dryness and irritation, a surgical lubricant or water-based jelly can be used (just make sure you blow it all out).

Nasal sprays, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescribed, can help keep allergens at bay after your nose is clear of all the stuff that keeps getting stuck up there. Doing this at least twice a day helps me have a quieter night and rest more soundly for sure.

Seeking silence?

If you don’t mind the whistling, though, feel free to keep it up! If I wasn’t trying to sleep, the sound of someone gently snoring might actually be kind of cute or endearing.

For those of us, though, who need silence, good luck and make sure you talk to your doctor on the best plan to clear the passages and get a deeper sleep.

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