Has your partner ever told you that you stopped breathing in your sleep? Do you wake up gasping for air? Do you wake up tired and feel like you haven’t had a good restful night’s sleep? If you answered yes to these questions, chances are you have sleep apnea.
Usually, your partner is the one to notice the bouts of breathing pauses. It’s probably time to seek help from a doctor if your partner has mentioned that your breathing stops several times during the night.
Sleep apnea can be a life-threatening condition and it is needed to be taken seriously. There are several options to help diminish the symptoms of sleep apnea and to help you and your partner get much-needed sleep.
Have you heard about APAP therapy? Have you heard of a CPAP and APAP machines? Let’s take a look at what they are and how they work so you can make an informed decision.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep plays a vital role in your general well-being and overall health. Restful sleep helps your body to recuperate and regenerate energy for the following day. You may feel less productive and have less energy if your sleep is interrupted.
Sleep disturbances are quite common and some are easy to manage with the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. From the occasional snoring to the more complex sleep apnea issues, sleep disorders need to be taken seriously.
Sleep apnea is when a person has periods during the night where their breathing pauses. These can last anywhere from 10 seconds to 30 seconds. It can be quite scary for the sleeping partner to witness and they may have the instinct to wake up their partner. This leads to a disruptive sleep for everyone.
Sleep apnea is not curable but can be controlled with proper treatment. There are three types of sleep apnea and about 22 million Americans suffer from the condition. So if you or your partner suffer from sleep apnea, you are not alone!
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is when your airway is obstructed by your tongue while you sleep, making it difficult to breathe.
- Central Sleep Apnea: This is when your brain forgets to send signals to your lungs to keep breathing at regular intervals. This type of sleep apnea is more rare than obstructive sleep apnea.
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: This type is a combination of the two other types of sleep apnea and is extremely rare.
It’s important to speak with your doctor if you suspect that you or your partner suffer from sleep apnea. Your doctor may recommend a sleep doctor to get to the bottom of it and suggest a treatment program.
A sleep apnea treatment program will often involve APAP Therapy and a CPAP or APAP machine.
What Is APAP Therapy?
Chances are you will be prescribed to follow APAP Therapy and an APAP machine if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. APAP is the abbreviation for Automatic Positive Airway Pressure.
The auto APAP device is composed of:
- A mask
- A long hose
- An air filter
- A humidifier
- An air pressure generator
The mask you choose is an important decision. There are three types of masks for the APAP machine and each has different characteristics for different types of sleepers.
The full face mask
This mask creates a seal and covers your mouth and nose. It’s best suited for mouth breathers and for sleep apnea sufferers who need a lot of air pressure to help the nightly breathing pauses. This mask is not recommended for side sleepers as it may become uncomfortable.
The nasal cradle
The nasal cradle mask will cover your nose and have a chin strap to keep your mouth closed. This mask is good for those who need high air pressure and who tend to sleep on their sides or move around more during the night.
The nasal pillow
The nasal pillow mask is the smallest and probably the easiest to wear and to get used to. The mask is inserted into both nostrils and rests on a small pillow. This APAP mask is for those who need less air pressure and who are side sleepers.
You need a doctor’s prescription to begin APAP therapy and to access the APAP machine. Your doctor or a sleep specialist will determine what the best option is for you. Check with your insurance company to find out what types of sleep apnea equipment is covered in your policy.
The APAP machine regulates the pressure during the night as you sleep. It analyzes your breathing and movements and adjusts the air pressure accordingly. This keeps your airway open and keeps your breathing normal and prevent pauses.
CPAP vs APAP
CPAP machines (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) are also used to help sleep apnea patients. Unlike the APAP machine, the CPAP machine is not automatic and keeps the same steady airflow pressure throughout the night. The CPAP is not intuitive and will not adjust according to your breathing or movements during the night.
The CPAP machine is adjusted by your doctor and is monitored regularly for any changes. Both devices work well and are suited for different types of sleepers and sleep apnea sufferers.
- Continuous airflow pressure
- Does not adjust to your breathing
- Good for back sleepers who do not move a lot during the night
- Less expensive than the APAP machine
- Can feel claustrophobic
- Good for regular pattern breathers
- Must be set by a doctor or sleep specialist
- Adjusts to your breathing and movements
- More comfortable
- More expensive than the CPAP machine
- Good for irregular breathers
- Good for people who toss and turn
Pros of APAP Therapy
The APAP therapy machine adjusts the pressure exactly to the amount of air you need while you sleep.
The auto APAP machine can be set to an auto-adjusting mode or a continuous airflow mode like the CPAP.
Being that the device adjusts to your breathing needs, you won’t feel as much unpleasant pressure as some have experienced with the CPAP.
Your breathing and sleep apnea can be affected by a multitude of factors. Weight gain or loss, alcohol consumption, allergies, or illness. The APAP machine will determine what airflow you need even with small or large changes.
Cons of APAP Therapy
The auto APAP machine is considerably more expensive than its counterpart, the CPAP. This may be an obstacle for some users with smaller budgets or limited insurance policies. The APAP machine may cost you approximately $300 more than the CPAP. APAP machine prices vary and range in prices from $600 to $800.
You may be woken up as the machine changes airflow pressure through the night. Some users have claimed that there is an adjustment period when starting with the APAP machine.
You may experience dry mouth while using the APAP machine. This is quite common and can be remedied with a room humidifier.
Is an APAP Right for You?
You may be a good candidate for an auto APAP machine if you suspect, or have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Having safe and regular air flow into your lungs while you sleep will let you fall asleep better and stop the disruptive breathing pauses.
Having sleep apnea can actually make you feel anxious before going to sleep and cause other sleep disturbances like insomnia.
There are a variety of APAP machines on the market today. You should do some research to find out which one would suit your lifestyle better. The smaller and more compact devices may be a better match for you if you travel a lot.
You may adapt better to the smaller nose masks if you think sleeping with a full face mask is intimidating. All APAP machines come with an air humidifier system, this may be integrated or attachable. Be aware that you may still have to purchase a room humidifier if you wake up with a dry mouth.
There is no need to suffer in silence with these devices readily available.