CPAP Hints

[update 2020: read this post!]

I’ve been using a CPAP for mild obstructive sleep apnea since January 2015. It definitely helps me get a good night’s rest and keeps me from snoring which helps Megan sleep. I still take it off in my sleep most nights. Megan prods me and I put it back on (update December 2017: I wear all night most of the time now! Hurray!). Here is a list of hints, most of which I’ve tried, to keep my mask on. Do you have any tips to add? Email or comment!

– keep a log of good and bad nights and what I’m doing about it
– Set an alarm in the middle of the night to put it on
– cough syrup (helpful when I have a cold!)
– antihistamine pills (when I have a runny nose or cough)
– nasal allergy spray… Flonase, saline
– turn the temperature up to 80 degrees (didn’t help me)
– use distilled water in the humidifier (I don’t usually use the humidifier but the chamber potentially won’t get as much crud in it if I use distilled water)
– higher pressure… ramp pressure from medium to higher (waiting for the doctor to change the settings is for chumps. I fiddled with the settings a little and it helped. Just 1 small change every 2 nights and a log book helped dial it in for me!)
– Set a timer when going to bed so I don’t forget (I wait til I’m almost asleep to put it on. I sometimes fall asleep forgetting. So I set a 10 min timer when getting into bed for a while)
– Chin strap (didn’t help)
– shave before bed for a smooth face (helps! I do it nightly now)
– wash the facemask every few days with soap and/or isopropyl alcohol (if I don’t, I have to keep pulling it tighter to keep it from leaking… wash every week. My masks have lasted 3-12 months)
– rinse my nostrils with water and blow my nose before bed for clear nose.

I went to a few doctors to try to help improve my sleeping with it. Every time, they’d look at the CPAP’s computerized log, ask some obvious dumb questions and say, “I dunno. Keep trying, you’ll get it.” and charge me a hundred bucks. Every time, I left the office MUCH more discouraged than when I went in. Most recently at an office visit, I asked to try some different masks. I tried 3 masks in the office and ended up with a size Large instead of the Medium that I previously had. That has helped!

I’m glad I have a CPAP. Good luck to you!

One Comment

  1. lee says:

    Here is some of what I did to improve my usage:

    For a few months I kept a log. I didn’t reliably write in it but the intention is good for a lot. I went by: Megan telling me I was snoring and taking off my mask, what I sounded like on the Android app Snoreclock, my AHI on the machine, how I felt (I could usually tell when I had slept poorly right away), how my chest felt (pressure too high made my chest ache a bit, pressure too low and I’d wake up gasping for breath in the middle of the night), looking at my wearing patterns in the Resmed Windows software (wearing it under 4 hrs/night = very bad, taking it off for in the middle of the night for an hour or two = bad), looking at my wearing patterns in the Sleepyhead free software.

    I got great benefit from adjusting my own pressure. Screw going to the doctor for each change. I googled for the secret key combination on my CPAP.. Just 1 small change every 2 nights and a log book helped dial it in for me. I’d adjust 0.1 units, whatever they are… for example, from 13.0 to 13.1. And here I am wearing it for 3 years and and just 2 weeks ago I adjusted the pressure up 0.1 and it really helped.

    Some tidbits I read:
    Empirically increasing the set CPAP pressures by 2 cm H2O may resolve residual events and symptoms. However, increasing pressures may result in more mask leaks and more patient discomfort and may potentially precipitate central apnea.
    A simple approach is to select the 90%-95% pressure (the device reports at what PAP pressure the patient spends 90%-95% of their sleep time) and make this the lower limit of the pressure range. The upper limit should be set at 2-4 cm H2O above this.

    Sleeping in the lateral position and elevating the head of the bed can decrease the effect of gravity on upper airway obstruction. The pressure required by most patients with sleep apnea ranges between 6 and 14 cmH2O

    And I really like using for resupplies. It’s pretty much the only good online cpap store I found
    Amazon has the best prices and availability on most CPAP accessories like masks, hoses, filters and such!

    Browsed some CPAP websites for support, advice and to get a feel for what’s out there.:
    SleepyHead CPAP Software

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