The Ultimate Guide to Unlocking Healthy Sleep
If you're one of the estimated 22 million Americans who suffer from moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea, you know that a good night's rest can be difficult to catch.
Experts estimate that over a third (35 percent) of adults don't get the recommended seven hours or more of rest they need each night. Poor-quality rest or sleep disruptions can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, control your appetite and lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. While the use of CPAP machines among adults of all ages is rising, you may still be struggling with the maintenance of your new equipment while you continue to adjust to using it. Because of this, you may be unable to produce immediate results.
Achieving "compliance" -- the medical term for optimal use of your CPAP machine -- isn't as easy as remembering to put your mask on each night. Adjusting to the noise and feel of CPAP machines carries a learning curve. Machines and parts both require maintenance and periodic replacement.
Being able to appreciate the full benefits of healthy rest as a CPAP user requires some consistent maintenance to your CPAP machine, including routine maintenance to your machine and supplies. Read on to learn what the best-rested CPAP users do differently.
10 Benefits of Healthy Sleep
Everyone who has ever received a diagnosis of sleep apnea knows that there's a significant difference between spending enough time in bed and getting high-quality sleep. In order to receive a diagnosis of sleep apnea, your sleep study results revealed that your airway collapsed or became obstructed during sleep, causing disruption to your breathing.
Whether or not you fully wake from each of these apnea episodes, the patterns are likely to result in one or more of the following symptoms for individuals with sleep apnea:
- Waking up suddenly
- Sore throats
- Chronic exhaustion
- Difficulty focusing
- Mood swings
While many CPAP users notice an immediate difference in their quality of rest and other health factors after receiving their new machine, you also may have found that not all of your symptoms are alleviated. Or perhaps you've discovered that while your CPAP machine was originally perfectly adjusted to your needs, you're no longer getting the benefits you were initially.
If you identify with any of the apnea symptoms listed above, there's a good chance you're not getting healthy sleep. High-quality rest can benefit many areas of your life and health, including:
1. Less Chronic Pain
For patients with other conditions, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, adequate rest is crucial to disease management. Studies show that individuals who aren't rested may have lower pain tolerance.
2. Improved Immune System
Your body's immune system needs rest to fight off the common cold or other infections.
3. Weight Management
While researchers are still working to understand the connection between healthy sleep and weight, studies show that for each hour of sleep missed per night the odds of an individual being obese are higher.
4. Emotional Health
Chronic exhaustion can take a toll on your relationships at home, at work and with your friends. According to Psychology Professor Jodi A. Mindell, exhaustion can affect our "emotional regulation," making us more likely to feel sad, anxious or irritable.
5. Disease Prevention
In order to maintain healthy circulation, your body needs adequate sleep to perform "routine maintenance" on the heart and blood vessels. For individuals who are at-risk or diagnosed with high blood pressure, strokes or diabetes, healthy sleep may be especially crucial.
6. Concentration and Focus
Sleep has an important role in the healthy functioning of the brain, including your ability to focus and be productive at home and at work.
7. Diabetes Management and Prevention
If your blood sugar numbers have caused concern, your rest patterns could be working against your healthy lifestyle efforts. One study revealed that just seven consecutive nights of four hours of sleep caused symptoms of pre-diabetes in healthy young men.
8. Less Inflammation
Researchers have found that too little healthy sleep can cause markers of chronic inflammation and damage to cells. While inflammation is undesirable for anyone, it can be particularly challenging for CPAP users with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or other digestive issues.
9. Preventing Depression
If you have a personal or family history of depression, managing your sleep apnea is likely an important tool for your mental health. According to some studies, up to 90 percent of depression patients report low-quality rest at night.
10. Blood Pressure Maintenance
Poor-quality sleep can wreak havoc on your ability to maintain normal blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack. Even healthy adults without high blood pressure may experience a spike in their blood pressure readings, according to researchers at Harvard.
For many CPAP users, reading tips on improving your quality of sleep can be frustrating. Chances are you've tried many of the basics over the years, like going to bed at a consistent time each night, avoiding using your smartphone in bed and maintaining a dark environment with a comfortable temperature.
If you've got all the basics down and you still feel exhausted, your health and well-being could be compromised as a result of your sleep struggles. Everyone deserves a healthy night's rest, and getting it is important to disease management and prevention. If high-quality rest is elusive, you may need to consider changing your CPAP supplies.
Why Changing Your CPAP Supplies Is Important
Like any other machine, your CPAP machine needs maintenance. Parts that are overdue for replacement may not function well, causing you to miss out on precious hours and minutes of rest. You may not notice that your sleep quality has decreased, but you could be suffering from the lack of rest regardless. Remember, you may start noticing impacts on your appetite, blood pressure, and other aspects of your health after just one night of poor-quality rest. Proactive maintenance is critically important when it comes to your CPAP machine!
Risks associated with not changing your supply parts vary. Filters need to be changed more often than any other CPAP parts. If you fail to change the parts or clean your water humidifier chamber as recommended, you could be inhaling bacteria and germs on a nightly basis! In other more serious cases, worn-out tubes, mask parts and the CPAP machine itself can compromise the air delivery, causing you to not get the assistance you need.
CPAP Parts Requiring Replacement
The following are the most common CPAP parts that need replacement, as well as how often you should change them out.
The mask is the hard, plastic portion of your CPAP machine. It should be replaced every three months.
Mask Cushion or Nasal Pillows
While the optimal replacement for your mask cushion or nasal pillows can vary according to whether you have a full-face mask, it's generally recommended to replace these items once or twice each month.
The stretchy neoprene band that connects the mask to your face is generally referred to as "headgear." Over time, it can lose stretch, which makes it difficult to get the crucial snug fit required for high-quality sleep, reducing the pressure that enters your sinuses. It's generally recommended that users replace their headgear once every six months or sooner, especially if it becomes discolored or stretched out.
The chinstrap is made of the same neoprene material as the headgear, and can become stretched and compromise the quality of your fit. This should also be replaced approximately every six months.
Filter replacement recommendations vary significantly according to the manufacturer of your machine. However, most filters need to be replaced approximately every six months or sooner. If your machine has paper filters or is a ResMed AirSense, filters should be replaced every two weeks.
For users who are following recommendations and performing cleaning on their water humidifier chamber, the recommended replacement period is usually every six months.
Total Machine Replacement
Typically, patients find that insurance covers total replacement of the CPAP machine every five to six years. In many cases, patients who suspect that their machine is not functioning optimally may qualify for replacement sooner, which may take place due to warranties. In other cases, patients qualify for replacement sooner if the results of a repeat sleep test indicate they need a different machine or their insurance changes.
If you've failed to stay on the recommended schedule or you're shocked to learn how often you should be replacing your filters, you're far from alone. One study found that up to 80 percent of people who own a CPAP are not using it in ways that are safe -- including supply changes. Fortunately, getting the benefits you deserve from your CPAP machine doesn't have to be difficult or time-consuming.
Benefits of Home Delivery of CPAP Supplies via Insurance Benefit
The process of replacing all of your parts and managing any other health conditions you have can seem downright overwhelming. Many CPAP patients aren't fully educated by their physicians on how to completely take care of their new machine, or how to work with their insurance on getting the parts they need to make sure their CPAP is functioning optimally. The maintenance schedule can seem almost overwhelming. Fortunately, you've got more options than having to head to a medical supplies store or sort for the right parts online.
For the vast majority of CPAP users, insurance benefits can include fully paid-for CPAP supplies delivered straight to their home on the recommended schedule! There's no need to search in a local store, use the web or send a family member out in search for the items you need. Home medical supply delivery for your CPAP machine carries many different benefits, which can include:
- No Cost to You
For the vast majority of CPAP users, including Medicare and Medicaid patients, CPAP machine supplies are fully-covered since they are classified as durable medical goods. Better yet, you don't need to pay for the convenience of the service, including shipping or remember to re-order.
In addition to the fact that you're not having to pay out-of-pocket for any part of home CPAP part delivery, you benefit from associated cost savings. How much would you spend in gas, time and energy having to pick up parts in-person? If you were to order online yourself, would shipping be free? The cost benefits of home delivery services often add up much quicker than most patients realize.
- Expert Assistance
How many times have you taken the time to go to a store for an item, then returned home to find it wasn't actually what you needed? Some CPAP users can have the same experience at large pharmacies or medical supply stores. Staff at retail establishments aren't always experts on every product they carry, and may not have the knowledge to help you find just the right products for your particular machine.
With home medical supply delivery, you're able to unlock the peace of mind that comes with knowing you've got CPAP experts on your side who will send you just the right parts for your CPAP prescription and machine.
- Not Having to Deal With Insurance
In some cases, patients are under the incorrect impression they need to cover the cost of CPAP parts and other medical supplies up front, and then submit a receipt to their insurance for a time-consuming and painful reimbursement process.
With the right home medical delivery company, you don't need to worry about insurance coverage -- you sign up with the service, and they negotiate with your insurance provider directly for payment. You'll never have to deal with long hold times, annoying phone tree menus or unhelpful customer service representatives at an insurance company for CPAP replacement again.
CPAP supply delivery professionals know that you can't afford to wait a week or two for your supplies. A single night without high-quality rest can wreak havoc on your emotions, relationships, health and any other conditions you may have. In many cases, these companies also offer super fast shipping in case you ever experience an issue with a part and require replacement off-schedule.
- Manufacturer Relationships
The people at your CPAP home delivery company aren't just experts in free, flexible delivery service. Despite the fact there's many different CPAP and mask options available to sleep apnea patients, they have manufacturer recommendations and relationships for each of these options. Once you provide the details of your machine and prescription, they take care of making sure you have the right mask, filters and other parts.
Healthy Tips for Sleep for CPAP Users
Sleep with a CPAP machine shouldn't be hard. While you do need to clean the humidifier and replace parts, partnering with a home delivery company should make the process of maintenance much easier. Whether you're dealing with some sleep interruptions or you want to avoid ever missing a good night's rest again, proactively arming yourself with knowledge is important. The following are some of expert recommendations for getting the best rest possible with your CPAP machine:
Make Sure Your Mask Fits Right
Did you know that just 60 percent of CPAP users continue to use their machine every night for more than a few months? Two of the most common reasons that patients dislike their machine and feel like they're not getting enough benefits include failing to replace their supplies and a poor mask fit. No two faces are the same, which is why it is important to work with your physician on finding the right mask for your unique bone structure.
Testing out a potential mask while lying in your own bed is the best way to determine whether it's a comfortable fit or not. Unfortunately, it's not exactly easy to do this at your doctor's office. In many cases, home medical supply delivery programs allow their customers to borrow masks to continue testing until they find the perfect fit.
Practice Using Your Mask
If you have found a great mask fit but just don't like the feeling of something strapped to your head while you try to sleep, you're not alone. The American Sleep Apnea Association's recommendation is that "practice makes perfect." They advise patients who just don't like wearing a mask to wear it for periods of time during the day, when it is not connected to the machine.
If you can get accustomed to using your mask while you watch television, read or scroll through Facebook, you may have a much easier time falling asleep while using your CPAP.
Be Proactive About the Sleep You Need and Deserve
Unfortunately, getting the right CPAP prescription, mask fit and sleeping perfectly forever isn't always in the cards for individuals who have just been diagnosed with sleep apnea. CPAP usage can require a pretty proactive approach. Think of this attitude as fighting for the sleep you need to stay healthy and have happy relationships.
Communicate with your doctor if you notice any issues related to sleep apnea after you've received a machine. Changes in health and lifestyle, including aging and weight changes, can require patients to receive a new sleep evaluation and prescription.
Inspect your machine on a regular basis, and observe whether any of the parts are damaged or showing signs of wear, or if your machine and mask are making strange noises. This may be an indicator that your fit is off or that the parts are wearing out.
While managing your sleep apnea may require proactive communication with your doctor and several more sleep studies over your lifetime, maintaining your machine according to manufacturer recommendations doesn't need to be hard. With the right durable medical supply company on your side, home delivery that's covered by your insurance can be convenient, free and easy.