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67: Should you put your CPAP mask back on?

cpap Jul 15, 2023

You wake up in the middle of the night and take your CPAP mask off.  This happens for a number of reasons.  You have to go to the bathroom.  You have to let the dog out.  You’re tired of the CPAP mask.  You are worried you won’t be able to go back to sleep with the mask on.  

Should you put your CPAP mask back on? Why?

I’m going to advocate for your brain getting healthy sleep for the remainder of the night!  This means putting your CPAP mask back on before you return to sleep.

In the second half of the night, human beings have more REM (Rapid Eye Movement, or dream) sleep.  REM is really important.  Here’s why:  

  • Memory Consolidation: During REM sleep, your brain consolidates and processes the information you have acquired throughout the day, helping you to strengthen memories and solidify learning.  This is very valuable!!
  • Emotional Regulation: REM sleep is also important for regulating your emotions and mood. Studies have shown that people who are deprived of REM sleep experience more negative emotions and have difficulty regulating their emotional responses.  This could be the difference between being zen and being a hot mess!
  • Physical Restoration: REM sleep is essential for physical restoration, as it allows your body to repair and regenerate tissues, and release hormones that support growth and repair.  Read between the lines here:  this is like drinking from the fountain of youth!!
  • Creativity: REM sleep has been linked to enhanced creativity, as it provides an opportunity for your brain to make new associations and connections that can lead to innovative thinking and problem-solving.  Also better decisions, more flexibility in your thinking, and pivoting when things don’t go your way!

On the flip side, a lack of REM sleep or interrupted REM can lead to the opposite.  

Why would you lack REM sleep if you’re not using your CPAP?  Because when you’re not using your CPAP, you have sleep apnea.  

Remember, sleep apnea causes repeated airway obstructions, drops in your blood oxygen level because you’re not breathing well, and brief awakenings from sleep to gasp and re-open your airway.  In addition, many people with sleep apnea have WORSE sleep apnea during REM!  Sleep apnea will interrupt your REM and shortchange all of the benefits associated with it.  

Putting your mask back on in the middle of the night may be challenging at first, but if you keep practicing, it WILL get easier.  Here are some tips:  

  • Keep a “dry” mask at your bedside to switch to.  
  • Put in a mask liner for comfort.  
  • Play a guided meditation or some relaxing music as you are returning to sleep
  • Practice with your mask during the day to become more accepting of it  

Consistently wearing the mask for sleep teaches your brain that the mask is okay and reduces your agitation with it.  In fact, your CPAP mask can turn into a signal that it is time to go to sleep.  This habit could make getting back to sleep easier!

Treating your sleep apnea fully means you are saving your vitality one night at a time.  Your vitality includes a good memory, emotional stability, physical health, and creativity.  Wearing the CPAP mask consistently throughout the night improves the quality of your sleep and helps you wake up feeling more rested and refreshed in the morning.  Your well-being is worth it!



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