What Happens When I Forget to Use my CPAP Machine?

I got a rare glimpse yesterday of the reality of what it is like when I forget to put my mask on and use my CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to treat me sleep apnea.

For those who are not in the know or have not seen the blog posts from late 2019, I found out that I have severe sleep apnea. How bad was it during my first sleep study? My doctor told me I stopped breathing no less than 700 times in a seven-hour period, and I got zero REM sleep, which they say is suitable for brain function. Averaging somewhere around 80-100 times of total stoppage of breathing an hour is terrible, and also very scary. My diagnosis became severe sleep apnea. One of the worst cases my doctor has seen.

One of the worst times I stopped breathing was for 57 seconds. Almost a minute of not breathing.

What feels like since birth, I have struggled with sleep. In 2016, I tried to get on a CPAP regiment, but issues with the dehumidifier and masks made my insurance take my machine away. I decided this time would be different. The CPAP devices now are amazing. One thing I love is that though my pressure level is high at a 15, the machine starts me off at a four, and gradually as I sleep increases to my comfortable air pressure. The dehumidifier is so much more advanced. In my second sleep study, I went down to stop breathing 30 times an hour, a vast improvement.

I was excited when the first time in two years my events per hour went down, and it only got better when I got my CPAP machine.

The results were instantaneous. Within the first week of constant use, I saw a significant drop in my events per hour to less than one. Before three hours was all I really got, but for the first time, I was sleeping six hours, then seven, and some night I even hit that high number of eight hours of sleep. The upside was I was waking less, and now I sleep through the night. My focus has improved drastically since starting my sleep CPAP regiment. My life has gotten so much better!

So far, I religiously make sure my mask is on before I sleep, but last night I was feeling down about missing my mom. I did not feel like I would sleep, but then I fell asleep without the mask on. I could tell the difference the moment I woke. I doubt my sleep was sound, and remember waking up so many times. One would say, “why not put the mask on when you woke?” The issue is with my Seroquel. It keeps me in a fog, and though I woke up, I was not conscious enough to realize my mask was not on my head.

While I was productive, mostly die to coffee, I felt so lagging in everything. I could feel how bad it was before my CPAP machine. How I functioned without it, I have no idea. My anxiety was a bit over the top but I managed to get it under control. At the same time, it was a great learning experience that sticking to my regiment is for the best. Sleep is so essential to mental health, if you feel like sleep is a significant issue, a sleep study could be a lifesaver. One of the major things about stopping and starting breathing is it can affect your brain, and that is such a vital organ!

One of the best things to come out of 2019 for me was improved sleep. You deserve it was much as I do because mental health is the most important thing you can work on in this life. This is just one side, there are so many parts to better mental health. Stay strong.

Always Keep Fighting!

James

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How Sleep Apnea Changed my Mental Health Outlook

Sleep and I never got along. I am not sure exactly when it started to affect my life, but since my childhood, I have never put much stock into the idea that sleep is possible in my life. Sleep is very important to mental health.

In 2016, my diagnosis became mild sleep apnea, and I was told it was affecting my mental health. My anxiety at the time was at an all-time high, but trouble with the CPAP machine, mainly that it was causing severe dry mouth that was keeping me from using the machine, made my insurance take back the machine before I could get the right mask. It sucked because I needed it, but I decided that it was too much trouble to keep dealing with the insurance and the machine.

Fast forward to 2019, where I began to once again get very little sleep, little did I know that it was worse than I believed. In the first sleep study, I found out some troubling news. One, I was not getting any REM sleep. That is bad for anyone wondering. The worst part? My sleep apnea was now severe to the point that, as an average, I stopped breathing around 87 times an hour. If you do the math, in eight hours, I was not breathing half the time. One of the worst was when I stopped breathing for approximately 57 seconds. That scared me to death. It meant I was waking up so many times a night it was borderline that I could die in my sleep.

In the second sleep study, about a month later, I got sick in-between studies, they added the mask and the CPAP machine this time around. I saw better improvement. It was interesting how advanced the devices had gotten since 2016. I still had sleep apnea events about 32 times an hour, but that was a significant improvement. Things could realistically look up in my life.

In September, I got my CPAP machine. I was hopeful that I could finally start conquering this sleep issue and at the same time, improve my mental health. What amazed me about the machine was that it starts out at a low level of air pressure. As you begin to sleep, it increases to the number that they found during the second sleep study as the best pressure for me to sleep. It starts out at a four, and increases all the way to 15, which is very high but necessary.

Nothing happens overnight, but I could tell in the first week that I was sleeping more through the night and waking up less. The dry mouth was no longer an issue as my new machine had a better dehumidifier. It was gradual, but within a month, I was sleeping around seven hours without waking, which for me, is out of this world. The best part? My sleep apnea events went all the way down to less than one event per hour. I don’t have to tell you how amazing that is, and since I have bought into the idea.

It is not a perfect world. I still have some issues getting to sleep, and the mask is cumbersome. But it works. Slowly the dark circles are disappearing. Its December and I am getting seven hours of sleep. I feel rested. I am more productive and alert. It was something I needed to commit to, and I have more than fulfilled the goals I set this time around. It is amazing what sleep can do for a person.

My point is that in this mental illness life, find things that will help you. I feel as if my anxiety is something I can work on, and my panic attacks will become less of an issue the more rested I am to start the day. I can finally start immersion therapy for my panic disorder. On occasion, I oversleep something I never did before, and it feels good! I will continue to stay committed and who knows where I will come in December 2020.

If you have any questions about sleep studies, sleep apnea, and CPAP machines please leave a comment and I will share my wisdom further.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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Is Sleep the Answer

I have been putting off talking about my sleep apnea and getting my machine that helps with the apnea until I am a few weeks into the new adventure. Sleep has always been a significant issue in my life. While there are so many positive benefits to having a CPAP machine, I wanted to see if after a few weeks in if there were some real changes to my sleep habits. I have to say, this time around, I am having a much easier time adjusting to the CPAP machine. My past experience two years ago was not great, and I was skeptical that things could change. I am happy to say that I was wrong.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or (CPAP) is a type of sleep therapy to treat sleep apnea. As I stated in my previous blog posts, my sleep apnea is considered very severe to a point that was stopping breathing at 30 minutes to every hour, and sometimes more. This was resulting in me getting zero rem cycle sleep. That is all bad.

So, I got my CPAP machine, and officially I have been using it for a month. While it is not an overnight fix, I still struggle a bit staying asleep, but it has been beneficial in me getting real sleep, which is everything to me.

The dark circles that have been a staple part of who I am are fading away, which makes me believe that my sleep is improving. There is an app for my machine. The app focuses on how many hours I use the sleep therapy, how much air leaks per night, how many times I take the mask off, and the most important, how many times I stop breathing per hour. The amazing thing is in my second sleep study, they found the right air pressure that gives me the best chance to get to rim sleep. Even better, the machines now are really advanced with better dehumidifiers, and it starts me out on low pressure. As I gradually fall asleep, it ramps up the pressure. This very important because my air pressure peak is very high (it starts out at a four and ramps up to 15).

I see my sleep doctor early November, and I will find out just how effective it has been, but I have less than one episode an hour of stoppage of breathing, and I am waking up feeling better than when I was not on the sleep therapy. It, like anything in this life, is a process. I hope that more sleep will lead to fewer depressive episodes and less anxiety. My anxiety is my biggest issue next to sleep.

So, I am hopeful. I am staying on it and not giving up this time on sleep therapy. I still have some mask issues, but it is not so bad this time around. I hope that things get better by the end of the year. I will be writing a post about my doctor’s visit and just how effective sleep therapy really has been when they look at the chip in my machine.

If you have sleep apnea please share your stories below.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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