As noted yesterday (Nervous yet resolute), I picked up an APAP machine yesterday to see if it can help with my sleep apnea. I set it up last night, adjusted the straps on the head gear, filled up the water reservoir, adjusted pillows and setup of my night stand to accommodate everything, and gave it a whirl.
In the first couple of minutes, I felt like I was hyper-ventilating. Likely a combination of it being APAP not CPAP, so it actually ramps up from air pressure of “5” to a maximum of “16” for me (range is 0 to 20 for the machine, and in contrast with CPAP that just has steady number the whole time, mine will also decrease if I’m not needing the higher number), and that whole nervous thing I mentioned in the title of the post.
I waited a few minutes, tried again, got it set up, and waited. Wondered if I would be able to fall asleep with it on. Apparently I can. My wife came in a little while later and noticed (a) I was asleep, (b) I was lying on my back which is unusual as I’m a side sleeper and back sleeping makes me snore, and worsens apnea, and (c) I was sleeping completely peacefully with my mouth closed (there’s another first).
That lasted about 80 minutes or so and then I woke up. It felt like my headgear was squeezing my head too much — not so much a suction problem, more like the straps were too tight. Adjusted things, took a break for a bit, went to the washroom, reattached everything, good to go again. And slept for about 90 minutes. That’s my standard sleep cycle anyway.
I can’t remember if I tried for awhile without it then or later, but did another round in there for about 90 minutes or so, and eventually got up around 5:00 and went to the washroom again (I drank way too much water later in the evening that I would normally, I was dehydrated from dinner and trying the different headgear). I also took some medication about 3 hours later than normal, which always messes my sleep too.
Back to bed around 5:30 or so, tried again, and laid there for about 30-45 minutes before I packed it in. I was not going back to sleep. I felt fine, still “sleepy” but not “dead sleepy” as I am usually at that time.
Trying to assess preliminary results is foolish, but I’m going to do it anyway:
- I was tired today, but more sleepy than exhausted, which is probably an improvement;
- Oddly enough, I felt like I had an air-conditioning hang-over, or as if I had been on an airplane too long. It’s a really hard feeling to describe, but I feel almost two-headed — like my physical head and my subconscious mind are not perfectly aligned along the same axis. This has been going on for quite some time though, no apparent cause, and while it was worse today than it has been in awhile, it’s still within the normal realm of “me”;
- My jaw was less sore today than usual, makes me think I might have avoided grinding somewhat too; and,
- My right ear “popped” today — not a air pressure clear, more like my jaw cracked, which sounds almost like it’s in my ear when it happens … often if I have a pressure or tension headache, the pressure goes away or at least decreases significantly if I can get my ear / jaw to pop / crack. If not, I have to do TMJ-style massaging along my jawline to get the muscles to relax. I haven’t been able to get it crack in months, today the right one went no problem, and my left one felt like it was ready to go, just not there yet. An audible release they call it when it goes; relief is what I call it.
Overall, my first night with the machine wasn’t an unqualified success, but I didn’t feel horrible doing it, I did sleep with it on, not 100% of the time, but at least 50-60% which is a good start considering it takes some getting used to in terms of the air of course but also the head gear too.
My sleep study produced a more accurate “Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI)” number, of course, as it has lots of sensors. The AHI is the number of incidents recorded per hour. Depending on the geographical area and who the governing council is, the standards are usually that < 5 incidents per hour is considered minimal or non-existent apnea. Mild would be 5-15 events per hour, moderate would be 15-30, and severe would be over 30. My official number from the whackjobs at the sleep clinic was 124. Severe severe severe why is he not dead yet apnea. According to the standards. However, first I’m not positive the sleep clinic was entirely reliable (low efficacy as per the previous post), and second, the woman teaching me the new machines was like, “Yeah, it’s high, but not anywhere near the highest, maybe above average but not big time.” Personally I think 2 per minute sounds like a lot from the original study.
The reason I mention it however is that the machine estimates how many you have based on the way you breathe in and out. It’s not as reliable as the sleep study, of course. But the machine knows when you’re inhaling and exhaling as it affects the amount of resistance it registers. And the machine comes with an SD card, and a modem to transmit my sleep data directly back to the company during the day. My numbers for last night? 0.5. A “half” of an event. I don’t even know what half an event is, but still, it basically registered me as having no apnea with the machine running and the air blowing in.
That’s pretty dang impressive.
I’ll keep at it. There are also some potential short-term benefits besides just better sleeping, including a small amount of weight loss (partly due to decreased bloating, metabolic improvements or more accurately, stopping things from screwing up your metabolism) and a reduction in blood pressure. I’m happy but a little nervous about my blood pressure potentially going down too far as I have meds that are supposed to regulate it low already, and the meds work pretty well. I’m going to monitor my BP twice a day for the next month or so, just to make sure nothing dramatic happens and my BP suddenly plummets without me knowing.
The only thing that presented a real challenge to me, and it’s a bit funny, is trying to yawn with the mask on my nose.
With the nose mask on, as soon as you open your mouth, there’s essentially a bit of a vapour lock as the air comes in your nose and out through your mouth and nothing goes down. Your mouth may even make a vibrating noise as it opens and closes a bit. Very disturbing. Anyway, I tried yawning and my mouth kind of blew an inverted raspberry (hard to explain, almost more vacuum in than blowing out as the vapour lock wants your mouth to slam back shut even as you try to open it). I asked the tech, she laughed and said, no, there were no special techniques she knew of to do it. I found out though that if I put up my hand and cover my mouth (like you would in polite company anyway), it creates enough of a shield for you to open your mouth without the machine clamping it shut or your lips/cheeks/mouth doing a concert. Doesn’t sound like much, but the alternative was very unsatisfying stifled yawns as I was getting really sleepy. 🙂
So I’m trying again tonight, hoping I can hold out to 11:00 or so to go to bed so I’m not awake at the crack of stupid. Wish me luck.