Island Senior: Sleep and the CPAP machine

Posted January 2, 2023 at 10:33 am by

As we head into a new year, many of us will take it as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­mit to health relat­ed goals. For me, I am among the many old­er adults cur­rent­ly suf­fer­ing from sleep apnea. I sus­pect that I am not alone in that my basic approach to the avail­able treat­ment can best be described as kick­ing and scream­ing.

The Mayo Clin­ic describes obstruc­tive sleep apnea as the most com­mon type of sleep-relat­ed breath­ing dis­or­der. “It caus­es you to repeat­ed­ly stop and start breath­ing while you sleep,” the orga­ni­za­tion explains. “This type of apnea occurs when your throat mus­cles inter­mit­tent­ly relax and block your air­way dur­ing sleep. A notice­able sign of obstruc­tive sleep apnea is snoring.”

Do you snore? Do you feel con­sis­tent­ly sleepy dur­ing the day? Chances are you have sleep apnea. How do you find out for sure? While I sus­pect­ed that I might have sleep apnea an overnight stay at Peace Health hos­pi­tal last year con­firmed my sus­pi­cion. I was referred to Island Sleep Well­ness Cen­ter in Ana­cortes. After an ini­tial appoint­ment I was then able to do my sleep test at home. The home test con­sist­ed of sleep­ing 2 nights with a bor­rowed machine that assessed my sleep expe­ri­ence. Alter­na­tive­ly, you could stay overnight at the cen­ter. The cen­ter in Ana­cortes has since closed. Please see the list at the end of this arti­cle for rec­om­mend­ed sleep health facilities.

Once diag­nosed, and if your treat­ment involves a CPAP machine, you will need to fig­ure out which place your insur­ance will cov­er get­ting it from. I got mine from Belle­vue Health­care in Burling­ton. Again, you may have to insist, but they will send it to you if the thought of going to Burling­ton is burdensome.

I had the CPAP machine for almost a month before I opened the box. It’s not that I don’t want a good night’s sleep, it’s putting all that stuff on my face I don’t like. The set up includes a mask with an air hose that con­nects to a bed­side machine about the size of a clock radio. For me, the most chal­leng­ing part is all the straps that keep the mask in place over my nose and mouth. I’ve slept two nights with it now and I have had bet­ter sleep. Five sol­id hours before I wake up and rip that thing off my face. It’s a start.

As a friend told me, for her­self and her hus­band sleep­ing with a CPAP machine is just part of liv­ing a healthy life. I believe her. Sleep, blessed sleep, is worth bit­ing the bul­let and wear­ing a mask to bed.

My new year’s res­o­lu­tion is to get some sleep. What’s yours?

Region­al sleep health facilities

  • Everett Clin­ic Pul­monary and Sleep Med­i­cine (accepts pedi­atrics) — 425–339-4204
  • North­Star Sleep Med­i­cine — Belling­ham — 360–676-1696
  • Peace Health Pul­monary and Sleep Clin­ic — Belling­ham — 360–788-6112
  • Prov­i­dence Sleep Health — Mill Creek — 425–258-7460
  • Seat­tle Children’s Sleep Med­i­cine — Belle­vue — 206–987-5072
  • Skag­it Region­al Cen­ter for Sleep Dis­or­ders — 360–428-2550
  • South Sleep Health (tele­health) — 425–636-2400
  • Whid­bey­Health Sleep Care (lim­it­ed capac­i­ty) — 360–240-4080

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  1. I’ve used a CPAP machine for a decade or more. It has become my best friend. It does take a while to work up to a full 8‑hours of using it, but it is def­i­nite­ly worth it. I’ve also noticed in trav­el­ing that there are many folks car­ry­ing their dis­tinc­tive CPAP cas­es in addi­tion to their car­ry-on bag. It is amaz­ing how com­mon this sleep dis­or­der is in our world. So, wel­come to the club. Best of luck with the adjust­ment. You’ll be a hap­py camper soon­er than you might think.

    Comment by David Bentley on January 2, 2023 at 1:16 pm
  2. Fun­ny! I’ve had mine in the box for almost a month now, as well. Maybe this week I’ll try it…I just had to get through the hol­i­daze first!

    Comment by Margaret Bell on January 2, 2023 at 5:02 pm
  3. The sleep clin­ic in Ana­cortes has closed.

    Comment by Lori Stokes on January 4, 2023 at 9:22 am
  4. some peo­ple’s sit­u­a­tion with sleep apnea can allow a small nose plug “padded clothes pin” look­ing device much less cum­ber­some and intru­sive than the strapped on mask; very indi­vid­ual but could be pos­si­ble for some. and some sys­tems are much qui­eter than oth­ers, anoth­er sleep fac­tor or you may need earplugs as well. Thanks Peg­gy Sue for shar­ing impor­tant info and your hon­est response to it!

    Comment by Pam C Fry on January 7, 2023 at 12:53 pm

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