For the millions of Americans who have some sort of issue or difficulty sleeping, around 18 million of them are affected by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that disrupts breathing during sleep, and thus disrupts deep restful sleep as well, contributing to fatigue and eventually other health issues. Many people who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea have used CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machines in order to assist with a better sleep.
How does the CPAP machine work?
The machine is comprised of a mask that is strapped on to the individual’s face, a motor that blows air, and a tube connecting the two. The slight pressure of extra air keeps the airways open, preventing blockages and the pauses that some people with sleep apnea experience. But for anyone who has used CPAP machines, they can tell you that it is not the most comfortable or convenient contraption, and around half of those who used CPAP machines after being prescribed them quit sleeping with them in as little as one to three weeks.
Are the machines really that necessary?
Many people do not realize the severity of sleep apnea. Consider these sobering facts:
- People with sleep apnea who go untreated are three times as likely to suffer from heart disease.
- Those who have untreated sleep apnea are looking at four times higher the risk of stroke than those who do not have the condition.
- The National Commission on Sleep Disorders claims that an estimated 38,000 deaths take place every year with some connection to cardiovascular problems related to sleep apnea.
Watching for the signs
So yes, sleep apnea is serious, and CPAP machines are vital in stabilizing the health of affected individuals. And it is even scarier to think about the fact that 2% to 4% of Americans, or one in every 50 people, go to bed every night with undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, cases of sleep apnea. Those who have used CPAP machines to aid in a better sleep know the difference that it can make. But the rest of us should also do our part in protecting the ones we love. Excessive snoring or choking sounds made during sleep can be indicators of sleep apnea. Another sign could be asthma. While not all asthma sufferers have sleep apnea, one with asthma can be more susceptible to the disorder.
Everyone wants a nice, full sleep, and we would all be able to breathe a little easier if the ones we care about were not at risk. Keep an eye, and an ear, out for the signs of sleep apnea and invest — and use! — a CPAP machine if diagnosed!