The Sleep Apnea Switch

What’s the best treatment for sleep apnea? Believe it or not, it’s not weight loss, CPAP, oral appliances, or even surgery. It’s your mind.


What I’m constantly amazed about is how some people are able to instantly turn on a switch in their minds, and decide that one way or another, they must be successful with sleep apnea treatment. Ultimately, a much more powerful motivator for achieving success is not my recommendation, or even then risk of not treating sleep apnea, but the person’s mindset. There has to be an important reason for succeeding beyond the medical consequences. Let me explain.


One close friend who’s in his late middle years was struggling with CPAP for his severe sleep apnea. Over time, many of his close friends succumbed to possible complications of sleep apnea: one had a stroke that left him blind, and another was incapacitated for weeks due to a blood clot that went to his lungs. He became determined to properly treat his sleep apnea, and is now doing well. 


I often see airline pilots, truck or bus drives for sleep apnea. What I’ve noticed is how well most are able to tolerate and benefit from CPAP compared with the rest of the population. When their jobs are on the line, there’s good motivation to get treated and be able to get back to work ASAP.


Another common situation is a newly diagnosed younger sleep apnea patient who happens to have a parent that snored heavily and died of a heart attack or stroke in their 40s. Clearly, he does not want to succumb to his father’s fate.


On the flip side, I have elderly patients that have severe sleep apnea (they stop breathing 75 times per hour), but since they feel fine, refuse any treatment. There’s no reason for them to even consider being attached to a machine every night. Eventually, they slowly come back to me many years later, as more and more of their friends die from heart attacks and strokes.


For some of these people, success comes easy, no matter which treatment option, and for others, it can be a challenge, trying multiple different options, but they all reach a point where they’re happy one way or another. Once you set a goal, supported by the right reasons behind it, you’ll get there, one way or another.


What’s your true motivation for addressing your sleep apnea? Please enter your reasons in the comments box below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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