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68: You’ve been on a break from CPAP

cpap Jul 22, 2023
Person lying on the floor in a messy house

Okay, you’ve taken a break from CPAP and now you’d like to circle back around to it.  Whatever the reason for your break, don’t spend any time second-guessing yourself.  Let’s look to the future and get you started with a few easy steps.  

Note:  there are many resources available to you in the FREE Membership!

First off, know that you are NOT starting at square one.  Even if you had a very brief dance with CPAP in the past, you are still more experienced than someone who has never felt the kiss of a CPAP mask.  Take what you know and move forward with it, but try to be mindful of replaying negative experiences in the past.  Things don’t have to be the same as before.  You are in a different place now, so do your best to be open and positive.  Discouraging self-talk can easily sabotage your progress.  

Second, (and in the light of day!) do some prep work.  Dig your machine and your supplies out of the closet and check everything over.  Plug in the machine and fire it up to make sure it is working.  Check the humidifier chamber, filters, tubing, headgear, and mask.  What is dirty or broken?  What do you need to replace?  What would you like to change?  Have you got some distilled water on hand?  Gather your cleaning supplies and put them in one place.  Make a shopping list.  Do you remember how to connect the tubing to the machine and the mask?  Give it a try.  Put your mask on and adjust the straps using a mirror.  Then give your reflection a high five.  Smile at yourself or roar like a lion.  You got this.  

Third, get the stuff on your shopping list.  You can order online or find a brick-and-mortar medical equipment company nearby.  Do you need a mask fitting?  A quick call to your insurance company can help you anticipate costs.   It wouldn’t hurt to have some backup supplies on hand.   Do you need a follow-up appointment with your sleep medicine doctor?  If the answer is yes or maybe, make that appointment since it’s gonna be a while before you can see them.    

Fourth, identify a start date for using CPAP again.  Mark it on your calendar as a sign of your commitment to healthy sleep.  The idea is to put the mask on nightly from your start date forward.  Wearing CPAP consistently gets your sleepy brain to accept it and get more comfortable as quickly as possible.  Consistency is important for any new habit.  If you think it will be tough to use your CPAP machine every night, start with two minutes with your mask on and work up slowly.  Yep, two minutes.  You want to get some easy wins under your belt.  It’s okay to go slow.  Give yourself a gold star every night you use it and get a streak going.  

Fifth, be aware of high expectations, black-and-white thinking, catastrophizing, or any other maladaptive thought patterns.  This type of thinking is MORE COMMON at night because human beings are naturally more negative and more emotional after the sun goes down.  Do your best to check any unrealistic expectations at your bedroom door.  Remember that It’s more productive to ease back into being a CPAP user instead of proclaiming “From this moment forward, I shall treat my sleep apnea nightly and throughout the night!”  The reality is that it may take some time to get used to.  That’s okay.  Consistency is key (see above!) and you may acclimate faster if you add in a practice session with CPAP for 15-20 minutes during the day.  

Sixth, make plans to support your sleep.  Improve your sleep quality by getting sunlight in the morning and exercising during the day.  Do some stress-busting activities and cut back on the electronic screens at night.  Set goals and create rewards to look forward to.  How can you make this whole process easier?  Is there anything you can do to make it more fun?  Get your CPAP ready in advance and set your CPAP mask on your pillow.  Encourage yourself by keeping a list of reasons why you’re doing this by your bed.  Ask others to support you and check on you.  Go to bed when you’re sleepy and keep the same wake-up time.  Assess your sleep quality an hour or two after you wake up, and realize that noticeable benefits may take longer than you want, but they are in the pipeline!

Seventh, when (not if, but when) you run into issues, get help.  Be a squeaky wheel so you can protect your sleep quality.  Join the membership and join the Facebook group.  Let us know how we can help.  

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