What a successful CPAP user knowsFeb 18, 2023
Ever wonder how someone overcomes the same obstacles to using CPAP that you are struggling with? And then goes on to say: “Now I can’t sleep without it.” Or even: “I love my CPAP.” How did they get there? What do they know that you have yet to figure out?
If you ask that person, they will say some variation of “Just stick with it, ”often with a little smile. And I think they are alluding to the fact that they persevered through all the challenges to enjoy healthy sleep again. Here are three ways you can steady yourself to persevere and become successful and comfortable with your sleep apnea treatment:
Don’t use your past to predict your future. When you are learning a new skill, the path to success is paved with failures. And that path is usually not a straight line. If you look at the trail of failed attempts behind you, your brain may be tempted to use that as evidence that you will not ultimately succeed. Don’t fall into that trap. You haven’t learned this skill, so OF COURSE you don’t know how–yet. Can you think of another skill that you learned after a lot of trial and error? What would you tell your “past self” about persevering? Where your CPAP is concerned, get your brain to respond more flexibly. Don’t expect your obstacles to get fixed on the first try. Come up with several ways that a problem could be solved, and then give those solutions time and patience. Successful CPAP users believe that they will succeed.
Actively look for your progress. If you are motivated to learn a new skill, you will look for progress with each attempt. I’ll use riding a unicycle as a fun example. If you really want to succeed you’ll actively look for your progress: a little bit longer in the seat, didn’t fall on my face that time, that sequence of movements seemed to be smoother than the one I tried before. On the other hand, if you are conflicted or reluctant to learn how to ride a unicycle, your mind will focus on the difficulty, how long it’s taking, and your scuffed knees. The same is true for CPAP. If you stay conflicted or reluctant, your negative internal talk will get louder and your brain will build a case to justify quitting. Instead, see your effort as progress and highlight small, consistent wins to propel you forward. A successful CPAP user has a growth mindset.
Prioritize your ultimate goal. I don’t think your ultimate goal is becoming a successful CPAP user. I think fully treating your sleep apnea (however that looks) is just a step on the way to your ultimate goal. That may be enjoying calm and clear-headed wakefulness, protecting your health, or something else that only you can define. Whatever your ultimate health-and-wellbeing goal is, you know sleep is a fundamental component. And your ultimate goal should be consistent with your values. Difficulty with sleeping (even outside of sleep apnea) can actually originate from living out of integrity with your values. So a little perspective may be helpful. You’re in a season of learning CPAP right now. One way or another, there will be an end to this season. How can you make your sleep better? What is your ultimate goal? What do you value? A successful CPAP user knows healthy sleep is in agreement with their ultimate health goals and values.
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