Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder. Although it’s notorious for causing intense snoring, sleep apnea involves much more than snoring.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing — often due to tissue near the throat blocking the airway — which then triggers your body to wake up briefly to start breathing again. This process takes seconds, and sufferers aren’t usually aware of it when it happens, but it can occur hundreds of times a night.
Unfortunately, over time, this condition can lead to daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and other problems. Fortunately, sleep apnea is treatable, and one way to treat it is by using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
In this blog, David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, of The Woodlands Dental Group, give five tips for adjusting to your CPAP machine.
Tips for adjusting to your CPAP machine
When you have a CPAP machine, you wear a mask while you sleep. The machine pumps air through the mask and into your nose and throat, and this “positive pressure” keeps your airway open. While many people are helped by these machines, they can take some getting used to. Here are some strategies to help you adjust to your new CPAP machine:
1. Ensure your mask is the right shape and size
CPAP masks come in different shapes and sizes. A full-face mask, for example, can make some people feel claustrophobic, but they can provide the right stability for people who toss and turn more during their sleep. In addition to the right shape, your mask should be the right size. A properly adjusted mask shouldn’t hurt or feel uncomfortable.
2. Try the ramp feature
If you’re struggling to get used to the forced air, consider trying the “ramp” feature. The ramp setting adjusts your CPAP machine automatically, so it slowly increases the air pressure from a lower setting to your prescribed setting.
3. Try your mask on during the day
Although you only need to wear your mask while you’re sleeping, practice wearing it throughout the day. This will help you get used to how it feels before you’re ready for bed.
4. Practice good sleep hygiene
Even with your CPAP machine, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene. This includes:
- Exercising regularly
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed
- Sleeping in a cool, dark room
- Getting to bed at the same time every night
You should also make sure to follow your provider’s instructions for using your CPAP machine.
5. Try a chin strap to reduce dry mouth
You might develop dry mouth if you breathe through your mouth while wearing your CPAP mask. Using a chin strap can help reduce dry mouth by keeping your mouth closed while you sleep. Some CPAP machines feature heated humidifiers to help address this concern.
Alternatives to CPAP machines
If you’ve tried a CPAP machine but aren’t happy with it, know that these machines aren’t your only option for treating sleep apnea. Another option is using an oral appliance.
The oral appliances we provide fit inside your mouth and gently position your tongue and jaw forward while you sleep. This repositioning helps keep your airway open, so you can breathe well while you sleep. Furthermore, these devices are custom-fit, lightweight, and comfortable.
If you’re ready to explore your sleep apnea treatment options, call 281-367-3085 to book an appointment with The Woodlands Dental Group today.