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…Nothing remains quite the same…”
Life changes occur all the time, if you have Sleep Apnea is it time to look at new outlooks, new life styles, new technologies?
It’s summertime, and our thoughts often turn to hammocks and relaxing and afternoon naps… playful lyrics like Jimmy Buffetts’ words above float out of radios. Thoughts of rest and relaxation and sleep come to mind! Often, this concept of restful sleep isn’t something all of us experience. And for a lot of us, the idea of an occasional lazy summer afternoon snooze may be less of a summer day dream and more your daily reality because you are so exhausted from not sleeping at night. And “changes” for you may be because you are newly diagnosed with Sleep Apnea or maybe because your long term Sleep Apnea therapy isn’t working for you anymore. Sometimes “change” requires us to look at our situation differently, with a fresh perspective to find the answers we need in order to feel better.
Are you newly diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea? Or have you been dealing with Sleep Apnea for some time now? Regardless of where you might be in your journey of how to cope with Sleep Apnea and how to integrate its treatment successfully into your lifestyle, you already know how much more information you need in order to deal with the changes this diagnosis introduces into your world. And as human beings go - some of us cope with change easily and some of us deal with it defiantly, openly fighting change of any kind! Learning about a new diagnosis can often challenge this part of your personality. It can take you on a whole new journey and open your mind to the many benefits of what is new… new products, new life style choices, new attitudes towards your need for sleep.
For thousands upon thousands of years, we humans rose with the sunrise and went to sleep with the sunset. This natural rhythm allowed our bodies to cycle through the five stages of sleep, four or five times a night. The first four stages allow us to maintain a healthy metabolism, ability to learn and maintain good memory. The fifth stage is the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and this is important for us because it regulates our moods and helps us form emotional memories.
So missing out on this natural and routine sleep cycle is obviously going to affect us. And so many parts of us! Emotions, cardiac health, our immune system, our memory, our patience, our irritation levels, and the list goes on and on. With our modern lifestyle, we are surrounded by continual stimulation 24/7 and the constant possibility for disruption of our sleep cycle. Many of us have work demands that include shift changes and the need to learn how to sleep at varying times of the day and night. So it should not surprise us that nearly half of all Americans report having difficulty sleeping. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that about 35% of people surveyed in 12 states said they slept less than 7 hours a night (on average). Another national survey reported that 23% of the people surveyed had trouble concentrating, 18% had trouble remembering things and 11% had difficulty driving, because they were tired!
For many folks, having the diagnosis and the treatment that comes along with it brings immense relief - they no know why they did not feel well and why they were so sleepy during their days. I have heard people say that they never knew they could feel so good even after a short period of time on CPAP Therapy! Many people report how happy they are that their family sees them as less irritable, more fun, more approachable,…. and this list goes on and on too! It is an opportunity to really participate in life again for these people!
But, for others, the mere thought of having to ‘deal with’ yet another thing is a challenge. This new nighttime ritual… the machine, the technology, the cleaning of the machine, the settings, the space needed on the night stand, the mask, its fit, its feel on your face, the questions: Is it noisy? Do I have this thing setup right? Is it working correctly? How do I easily get up at night and use the bathroom having to ‘unhook’ and ‘re-hook’ up to the mask?… and should I dare go on?! SO getting used to all of this can be and often is overwhelming and a burden.
Maybe here is where the “Changes in Attitude…Changes in Latitude…” occur. This is where we individually evaluate our situation and determine what we do with the new knowledge we obtain.
Are we newly diagnosed with Sleep Apnea? Are we asking our Doctor, our RT, our DME all the questions we need to have answered in order to be good stewards of our own health? Do we feel comfortable enough with each of these specialists to contact them if we have even more questions? Can we integrate our CPAP Therapy into our daily routine? Do we know about CPAP product choices? Understanding that there are new and innovative product choices may allow us to have better compliance with our CPAP Therapy. Knowing that (like everything else), a miracle cure is not part of our CPAP Therapy - are we able to be patient and remain committed to the search for what works best for us?
For those of us who have been compliant with our CPAP Therapy, do we look for the new and innovative products? Maybe the plastic mask we have used for a very long time, does work… but maybe it is not as comfortable as the new fabric mask? Should we try the fabric mask and see if it makes a difference in our comfort and compliance?
The point is that we must accept change as a good and necessary part of life and open our minds and eyes to the possibility of what can become part of our CPAP needs/our lifestyle… that which allows us to become the best we can be with our current situation and diagnosis. So open your eyes to all your treatment needs and possibilities and make up your mind to be as successful in your CPAP Therapy as you want to be in your life!