Although CPAP is supposed to help you get better sleep by treating your sleep apnea, it doesn’t always work. In fact, many people, especially those with mild sleep apnea, often experience significantly worse sleep after they start using CPAP.
Why CPAP Can Make Sleeping Worse
Although CPAP can be a very effective treatment for sleep apnea, it comes with a number of serious nuisances. People with CPAP can experience skin irritation from the mask, causing them to wake up because of itchiness. They can also get tangled up in the hose to the mask.
Eye, nose, and throat irritation are common with CPAP. The mask can cause a sense of confinement, even smothering. The noise of the pump is less often a problem with modern CPAP, but some older models can cause irritating sounds.
People with CPAP can experience gassiness and bloating. Some people experience nightmares as a result of wearing CPAP. CPAP can interfere with intimacy, which can make it harder to sleep.
CPAP difficulties are not independent of other possible sleep problems. People with PTSD can have a harder time with CPAP. People with claustrophobia may find it difficult wearing CPAP. People who have insomnia as well as sleep apnea may have a hard time using CPAP.
Gauging the Costs and Benefits for CPAP
Whether CPAP will improve or impair your sleep depends on how much your sleep is being affected by your sleep apnea. If you have moderate or severe sleep apnea, your body will respond more dramatically to the increased access to air. You will immediately experience an improved sleep quality.
For many people, this benefit will outweigh the nuisances of CPAP. This means that, despite the problems of fitting and irritation, waking and discomfort, you will experience a net gain in sleep quality. For many others, however, CPAP causes more sleep problems than it solves. Even people with moderate or severe sleep apnea can find that they get worse sleep with CPAP than they did before they started using the machine.
For most people with mild sleep apnea, CPAP is usually more trouble than it’s worth. CPAP-related problems lead to more waking than sleep apnea ever did. Unfortunately, doctors don’t always offer CPAP alternatives.
Give CPAP a Fair Shake
However, even if you have your CPAP machine for mild sleep apnea, it’s important to give it a fair try before seeking out alternatives. Make sure your unit is adjusted properly, take steps to avoid CPAP-related acne and other difficulties. Talk to your sleep doctor, your durable medical equipment provider, and other CPAP users about your difficulties. Try what you can to improve your sleep.
But if that doesn’t work, consider CPAP alternatives.
Oral Appliances Help You avoid CPAP-Related Problems
Oral appliances are a great alternative to CPAP. For most oral appliances, all you do is insert the appliance in your mouth when you go to bed. This is easy and convenient, and the oral appliance itself can be very comfortable, with no mask touching your skin, no hoses or tubes, and no air being forced down your throat.
If you are looking for an alternative when CPAP is harming your sleep, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with Omaha sleep dentist Dr. Roger Roubal at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.