In Sleeping Beauty or Sleepless Beauty I wrote about how my lack of sleep tuned out to be OSA and in this second post, I share how my CPAP trial went and how it has transformed my life!
What is sleep, apnoea?
The WellSleep Centre defines Obstructive sleep apnoea as A sleep disorder caused by the blocking of the upper airway.” I describe it as continually stopping breathing for a few seconds throughout the night.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms can vary from person to person. For me I began to notice;
- Loud Snoring (Mike and others noticed this)
- Gasping for breath
- Peeing when I wake, on a lousy night eight to nine times a good night was two times.
- Morning headaches
- Falling asleep during the day
- Mood swings
- Waking up and feeling bone-tired
- Constantly hungry and craving carbohydrates
- No longer dreamed
- Constant dark circles under my eyes
- Weight gain
I started trialling the CPAP machine at the end of March. The staff at the WellSleep Centre were terrific. They demonstrated the CPAP machine and I was sent home with it for the duration of the trial. These machines are smart as they download data so the centre could track how many hours I slept to how many apnoea’s I would have in an hour and if my mask would leak. Over the next four to six weeks I would visit the centre to review progress and the data. Despite the assistance I struggled with the trial for several reasons;
- Everything seems so much harder when you are functioning on fuck all sleep!
- I was pissed off that I had allowed myself to get into this position in the first place!
- Wearing the nasal mask felt claustrophobic
- I had to change how I breathed to inhaling and exhaling with a closed mouth
- The pressure to use the machine for four hours minimum per night
How does it work?
I explain to people that the CPAP machine delivers air into my airways via the hose and nasal mask that I wear as I sleep. The nasal mask forms a seal around the nose and is held in place by the four straps that go over my head.
Part of the trial is working out what type of mask and pressure suits you. Throughout the trial I struggled on a set pressure and it turned out that the auto setting suited me which means the CPAP adjusts the amount of air while I sleep. I tried both the facial and nasal mask. As much as I struggled with the nasal mask it suited me better. I had to adjust the way I breathed in my sleep from open mouth to breathing through my nose. When I had my last appointment with the sleep clinic they advised that I managed to squeak in and the machine was mine to use.
As the months progressed and I began to increase my hours on the CPAP, I began to notice quite a few improvements such as;
- No longer falling asleep during the day
- Dreaming again
- The dark circles under my eyes disappeared
- I was able to do more in my exercise sessions
- A shitload more energy
- My weight loss started to take off
- Returning to my pre-sleep routine of waking once or twice in the night
- No longer feeling like I am walking through concrete every day
- Stable moods
- Concentration levels have improved
- A regular bedtime routine
- Feeling refreshed.
When I found out that I had OSA, my wellbeing journey took on a new meaning! I want to reduce my OSA from severe to mild. Mild is five or less apnoea’s an hour. While it may take me a few years to accomplish this; I am determined to get there. While going through the trial I didn’t know anyone who had sleep apnoea that I could talk too about this. While the centre staff were helpful, it would have been nice to chat with a fellow user about the struggles.
If you know someone who has just found out that they have sleep apnoea I am more than happy to chat with them in person or via skype. Although it took me a few good months to get comfortable with the CPAP, it was worth persisting as the benefits far outweigh anything else.