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99: Thinking about quitting CPAP?

cpap Feb 24, 2024

After waking up from a rough night with your CPAP treatment, your outlook on the day ahead is grim.  And if you’ve been struggling with your CPAP for a while, you may be looking for reasons to chuck the whole thing.  What better reason than the worst night you’ve had?  Quitting on your CPAP would feel soooo good. . . . wouldn’t it?  

Yep, it would.  But only temporarily.  

When you’re starting your day on the heels of a bad night of sleep, your brain is already biased toward the negative.  Naturally, you’re going to see your situation as more hopeless than you would if you woke up feeling great.  And you will also tend to envision that bad night of sleep happening every night in the future.  It’s no wonder you would consider giving up.  

The human brain is programmed to have these types of thought patterns when stressed.  It is normal to want to give up after an extra-bad experience.  

As an adult, you’ve probably heard the adage “This too, shall pass.”  You’re also seasoned enough in adulting to know that growth comes with pain.  Making decisions about your health from a place of fatigue and frustration is not the smartest move.  Situations like this call for grit.  

Grit is persistence in working toward your goals despite being faced with challenges.  Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote a book called Grit, and you can see where you land on her Grit Scale by clicking here.  More than intelligence or resources, personal grit is the most reliable indicator of a positive outcome.  

To access your grit with CPAP treatment, take 5-10 minutes to do this simple exercise.  

  • Write down your sleep or CPAP goal and at least 3 reasons why it’s important to you.  
  • List at least 3 things you could do to decrease the chances of a night like you just had.  Even if you come up with something impractical, write it down.  
  • Write down 3 things you could do to support yourself through the day ahead.   

This exercise has a couple of important functions.  Firstly, it gets your health goal in front of you so you can gain perspective.  Your worst night of sleep shouldn’t derail all your efforts to treat your sleep apnea.  And you will survive the day ahead, even if you are not feeling your best.  Your bigger health goal anchors your mindset and gives you grit.  

The next two activities put your mind in action to learn from your experience.  Without learning, you are greatly reducing the chances of making a breakthrough with your CPAP treatment.  And letting this learning opportunity go by can reinforce feelings of hopelessness.  A person with grit gets clear on the next steps and has their own back.  

Grit is a personal quality that gets stronger with practice.  Acclimation to CPAP is so uncomfortable at times.  But you are learning as you go– and there is no shortage of learning opportunities!  If you want to make the decision to stop treating your sleep apnea with CPAP, that is available to you at any time.  But don’t quit on your worst day.  


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