Everyone’s Experience Is Different, and That’s OK
Last updated: July 2021
Recently, a moderator on the Health Union Sleep Apnea Facebook Page asked readers a question: How long did it take you to get used to sleeping with a CPAP?
I was in a rush, so took just a moment to type 2 words: One night. And moved on.
Later, though, I felt a bit bad about my response. It felt like I was bragging. Other people had shared their experiences. Clearly, many, many people struggled to get used to their masks, and many continue to struggle even after years of use. And here I come along, like, “one night;” I’m so awesome. Yikes. Sorry.
But there's more to my story
I want to add some context to that (and I did go back and comment on my Facebook entry): I had a bit of practice beforehand.
In other posts on the site, I’ve shared my experience with another form of treatment for sleep apnea, mandibular advancement devices, or MADs. These are appliances that pull the lower jaw forward to open up the airway. This often provides more space for air to pass through and lessens the chance or severity of blockage (and the snoring sound that goes with it.)
I wore MAD devices for about 7 years. You can read about why I stopped in the other piece.
Years of challenges with my MAD
So, I had in my mouth an intrusive device clamping my jaws together and pulling one forward. It made me drool. It gave me crazy dreams about my mouth being stuck closed with peanut butter or rubber glue, where I continuously tried to remove the gunk with my fingers. (And resulted in sometimes even pulling the appliance out in my sleep!) It often made my jaws ache.
When I got my CPAP (another trying experience), I read about how challenging it can be to adapt to. The literature advised that I try to wear it for just a few hours the first night. I put it on and woke up 8 hours later! How did that happen?
Discomfort had become second nature
Well, after 7 years of metal and plastic in my mouth, having something resting on my face seemed so much less intrusive. I guess being somewhat uncomfortable had become second nature to me! Thus, for me, the CPAP mask definitely felt easier to manage. And I often have sinus congestion, so it was full face for me from day one.
As a result, I can’t, unfortunately, be much help to folks who are having trouble adapting. I certainly don’t recommend going the route I did! (I wish I’d started with the CPAP from the beginning - I would have saved thousands of dollars in Invisalign to fix my teeth, for one thing.)
Our different paths to success
All I can say is, don’t worry about the fact that your experience is different from mine. Your route to success is fine. Mine is fine. You may discover some tips or tricks that help other people, or not.
But we can all support each other, even if adapting takes one night or one decade. Keep at it!
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