There are many challenges to CPAP therapy, but one of the biggest is knowing whether you’ll be able to stick with it well enough to get relief from your sleep apnea symptoms. That question becomes even more important when you realize that waiting too long to make a decision about CPAP can stick you with paying for a machine that isn’t actually helping you–and you might never use. 

There is some good news on that front, at least. A new study suggests that the strongest predictor of long-term CPAP compliance is how well you are doing on the treatment after the first month. That means that your first month of data should give you enough information to make an informed decision about CPAP treatment and whether it’s right for you.

man sleeping with cpap

What Predicts CPAP Adherence?

This study looked at more than 1100 patients with cardiovascular disease and moderate-to-severe sleep apnea (AHI 12+). The patients, age 45-75 years had their adherence to CPAP tested at several points over time, from one month to 24 months to determine who was complying with their sleep apnea treatment, and, hopefully, why.

Researchers fed many variables into their models, including sociodemographic factors, health and lifestyle factors, sleep apnea symptoms, one month change in sleepiness, CPAP side effects, and CPAP compliance at one month.

They found that the biggest predictor of whether a person would stick to CPAP was whether they were sticking to it at one month, although other factors that influenced the results included improvements in daytime sleepiness, heart disease, and very loud snoring.

Contrasting Earlier Results

Because poor compliance is the number one challenge for successfully treating sleep apnea with CPAP, many studies have been done on this subject.

One of the earlier studies revealed some similar conclusions to this study. It found that factors like whether you’re seeing benefit within the first month of treatment were key to determining whether you stuck to treatment. Also important: seeking treatment for yourself but having a cosleeper to encourage compliance.

Another study noted that personality plays a major role in CPAP compliance, and that people with Type D personalities were less likely to stick to CPAP

This study reveals different results from a smaller study that occurred early last year, in which researchers found that it was mostly the severity of sleep apnea that induced people to stick with their CPAP. While that study’s conclusions make sense, it may be more important that you are seeing benefits from your CPAP than that your sleep apnea was initially severe.

A Short CPAP Trial Might Be Worth It

If you are uncertain about what type of sleep apnea treatment is right for you, it might be worth it to try CPAP for a short period of time, about a month. This should give you insight into whether it’s the right treatment for you, or if you’ll be better off with an oral appliance

If you want to learn more about getting oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center, Nebraska’s leading sleep dentistry clinic.