CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy is one of the most effective methods of treatment among the 18 million+ Americans who suffer from sleep apnea – but CPAP compliance can be a real challenge for some of these individuals.
Many sleep apnea patients have a hard time adjusting to sleeping with a bulky mask on their face, making them less apt to comply with nightly use. But no matter how many times they’re reminded of the importance of CPAP therapy, sometimes that’s simply not enough.
Unfortunately, sleep apnea is the kind of disorder that patients don’t really notice themselves, as they’re asleep when most of their symptoms are occurring. Because of this, they’re less apt to recognize the severity of their disorder and the urgency of nightly CPAP therapy.
Mark Aloia, PhD, a sleep expert at National Jewish Health in Denver, had this very challenge in mind when he came up with the idea for a recent pilot study.
According to Medical Xpress, Aloia videotaped a small number of sleep apnea patients overnight while they weren’t using their CPAP masks. He then showed them the videos so they could watch themselves as they struggled to breathe throughout the night. The effect was surprisingly strong.
"We saw an increase in the use of CPAP of more than two hours a night, and after three months of follow ups, the patients were still using them," Aloia told the source. "We really created a personal sense of urgency in these patients in order to change their behavior.”
John Brugger, one of the individuals involved in the pilot study, had given up on wearing his CPAP, but changed his mind after seeing his video.
"It was a powerful moment in my life," explained Brugger. "It made me cry watching it, and to see myself basically drowning in my sleep, made me very determined to fix that."
Brugger said that from that point forward, he hasn’t been able to sleep without his CPAP – even when he’s just taking a nap.
Aloia told Medical Xpress that he was “thrilled by the response” to the pilot study. It was such a success that he recently received a grant that will enable him to test the approach on 300 additional patients.
As we’ve mentioned previously on this blog, one of the keys to CPAP compliance is keeping your mask clean. A dirty mask can cause sleep apnea patients to experience respiratory issues, making them less likely to comply with this important treatment. To ensure that your CPAP mask, hose and reservoir are germ-free, consider purchasing the SoClean CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer.