What is a Sleep Apnea Machine?- A Simple, Short, and Complete Guide
A sleep apnea machine, commonly called a CPAP machine, is the most common treatment option for CPAP.
A CPAP Machine works as a pump, pumping air into your lungs to prevent any blockages during sleep.
Treating sleep apnea with CPAP decreases risk for cardiovascular disease, depression, increases concentration, energy, eliminates snoring and more.
There are a few drawbacks to using a sleep apnea machine, such as the need to use it every night, steep price, and loss of sleep mobility
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder affecting an estimated 22 million Americans. It’s caused by a blockage of the respiratory airways while sleeping. The blockage prevents the body from receiving the oxygen it needs and causes you to wake up unknowingly throughout the night.
There is currently no known cure, but don’t be alarmed. There are many options for treatment ranging from a sleep apnea oral appliance to healthy lifestyle changes.
Among all treatment options, the most popular involves using a sleep apnea machine, commonly referred to as a CPAP machine. Treatment with a sleep apnea machine offers close to a 100% success rate. However, there are a few things to consider before deciding whether this is the most effective treatment option for your specific case.
How does a sleep apnea machine work?
Let’s start with the basics: breathing.
When you breathe, your body creates a vacuum in your lungs.
At the peak of your breath, your lungs fill themselves with as much oxygen as they can. Air is then exhaled until the pressure inside your lungs is back to normal.
Sleep apnea patients have obstructions in their breathing airways (trachea) which reduce the amount of oxygen that enters the lungs when breathing. Depending on the person, this can cause snoring or a choking sound.
This lack of oxygen in the lungs causes the body to wake up for air. The person wakes up, unknowingly, for a quick second to gather a nice breath of oxygen before going back to sleep.
For people with moderate or severe sleep apnea, it’s possible to wake up around 100 times every night.
Sleep apnea patients don’t spend enough time throughout the night in the most important stage of sleep; REM sleep. Waking up multiple times throughout the night strongly affects your mood, concentration, and sleepiness in the morning. You need certain amounts of REM sleep every night; failing to get it can cause a long list of health disorders.
How do CPAP machines treat sleep apnea?
Now that you understand the problem, let’s get to the good news.
One of the simplest solutions to sleep apnea is to increase the amount of air entering the airways.
This is exactly what CPAP does; it increases the amount of air entering the airways to compensate for the pressure lost due to the obstruction.
In other words, CPAP pushes air into your airways harder so that more oxygen enters your lungs. To do this, it works as a pump.
A CPAP machine is truly a glorified pump.
It sucks air from the room and pumps it out through a mask and into your breathing airways. The air enters your airways at a higher pressure than normal, which counteracts the loss of pressure from the obstruction and allows your lungs to receive the necessary oxygen. In other words, it pushes air harder into your mouth or nose. Thus, allowing more oxygen to enter your lungs. As a result, CPAP prevents patients from waking up in the middle of their sleep at night, thus allowing the sleep cycle to proceed normally.
What good can you expect from using CPAP?
1. CPAP reduces risk of developing strokes– Strokes are one of the biggest dangers of sleep apnea. A major study on sleep apnea found that men with moderate to severe sleep apnea are about three times more likely to experience a stroke than those that do not have it. Using CPAP correctly eliminates this risk.
2. CPAP reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases– The constant sleep-wake cycles throughout the night put a big strain on the heart. Untreated sleep apnea has been strongly correlated with developing cardiovascular diseases.
3. Decreased drowsiness– Most people notice the difference in wakefulness within 3 days of starting treatment. I noticed a significant difference in wakefulness just after two days.
4. Increased concentration and wakefulness- Successfully treating sleep apnea results in significantly higher energy levels and even motivation to do work. The “fog” begins to clear up and concentration levels increase.
5. Better mood, lower risk of depression- As you return to regular uninterrupted sleep cycles, you will likely find an improvement in your mood and overall less grogginess.
6. Eliminates snoring- Very often, snoring is a byproduct of sleep apnea. Similar to how a whistle works, when the airways are narrower than usual and a person exhales, a sound is produced from the air going through the airways. Treatment with a sleep apnea machine helps eliminate snoring as the root cause is treated.
What challenges can you expect from using CPAP
An article by the Canadian Respiratory Journal found that roughly 46% percent of people diagnosed with sleep apnea do not seek out treatment. The challenges presented here are some of the biggest reasons why this happens.
1. Wearing it every single night- As CPAP is not a cure for sleep apnea, not using it every night will cause the sleepiness and other symptoms of sleep apnea to return. It can be difficult to commit to using a sleep apnea machine for people that travel often or sleep in the same room as someone else. That being said, nowadays most sleep apnea machines and masks are quiet and do not interrupt other people’s sleep.
2. Might be uncomfortable to use while sleeping in certain positions- Because some sleep apnea masks are bulky or wide, they may not be suitable for side sleepers. If you are a side sleeper, a solution that most doctors recommend is to try out various sleep apnea masks until you find on that works for you.
3. Steep price- Sleep apnea machines can be expensive ($300 to upwards of $2000). There are some ways to get around this though. One solution might be to see what the cost comes out to be if you get your sleep apnea equipment from your medical equipment provider (MEP). Unfortunately, often times getting your equipment from an MEP is still very expensive, even when you have factored in your medical insurance.
If you’re looking for cheap deals on sleep apnea machines and equipment check out my list of the best websites to purchase cheap sleep apnea machines and equipment.
4. Awkward look– Some people may consider the sleep apnea mask embarrassing to wear when sleeping around other people.
Aside from CPAP; BiPAP and VPAP are also options for treating sleep apnea. These operate on the same principle as CPAP so they are often lumped under the name of CPAP. The difference here is that the BiPAP and VPAP increase pressure at specific intervals, such they do not deliver a constant pressure of air throughout the entire night.
There you have it folks. I hope the information in this article has been useful for your understanding of sleep apnea and sleep apnea machines.
If you would like to see more content or have any questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to leave a comment in the box below and I will answer it as soon as possible.