CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is one of the first-line ways of treating obstructive sleep apnea. Gentle, positive air pressure is passed through a mask into the nose to keep your throat tissues open. For many people, CPAP works very well, but there are many others that have difficulty adjusting to CPAP and end up giving up.
There are a number of proven, systematic steps that can be taken to improve CPAP usage, and I’ll cover each of these steps in future posts, but theres’s one important factor that determines whether or not you’ll ultimately benefit from CPAP even before you start. This is your mindset.
CPAP compliance, or the number of people who are able to use and ultimately benefit from CPAP, ranges anywhere from 29 to 83%. (Compliance is only a measure of how many hours patients actually use their machines. It doesn’t actually measure how well they are benefiting from CPAP treatment. You can be 100% complaint, but not sleep any better.) In the real world, compliance is much less than 50%. We know that with intensive education, support, and follow-up, CPAP compliance rates can be very high, but in our fragmented health care system with multiple providers for each patients, results are much less than ideal.
However, over the past 11 years in clinical practice, I’ve noticed a few observations: Bus drivers and airline pilots accept CPAP therapy readily and are usually very successful in adapting to and benefiting from their CPAP machines. In addition, newly diagnosed sleep apnea patients who have either friends or relatives who have good experiences with CPAP also tend to do well. On the other hand, if they hear horror stories about CPAP, they tend not do do as well.
What this goes to show is that your mindset and motivation ultimately affects whether or not you end up accepting or rejecting CPAP. Pilots and bus drivers have their jobs on the line. Until they are treated and cleared by a medical doctor, they can’t return to work. A close friend or family member’s experience using CPAP is also a major factor in how well you’ll be able to tolerate and benefit from CPAP. Imagine having the proper mindset, as well as undergoing intensive education, counseling, support and follow-up. CPAP success rates are sure to go up.
What was your motivating factor in succeeding with CPAP? If you couldn’t tolerate CPAP, what was the main reason? Please enter your comments below.