Blogs > Sleeping with CPAP

Assistant News Editor Lee Dryden was diagnosed with sleep apnea and uses a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to assist with breathing while sleeping. From a layman’s point of view, he will discuss the benefits, issues, challenges and frustrations of sleeping while wearing a mask.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sleep studies are safe despite death

  Sleep studies have gotten some unwanted publicity recently with a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a 25-year-old man who died during a study.
  FOX 5 Atlanta reports Brandon Harris’ family says he died when sleep technicians did not act quickly enough after his gestures for help during a study to determine if he had sleep apnea.
  His family said it was dangerous for him to lie on his back for long periods — as is needed when hooked to wires during studies — because he was very overweight and suffered from heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  The health facility has said the medical attention was appropriate and Harris died of sudden cardiac arrest, FOX 5 reported.
  Harris’ death has prompted the proposed Brandon Harris Act which would change Georgia law to require 24-hour staffing by a sleep specialist or professional nurse, mandate CPR training for sleep technicians and require a defibrillator in each room.
  My concern is that this incident could make people more reluctant to undergo sleep studies that are needed to diagnose their sleep apnea. It’s already difficult to convince many people to do this.
  The proposed requirements are a good idea and I’m confident safeguards are already in place at sleep centers.
  Harris’ death was a tragedy that shouldn’t be repeated, but it appears to be an isolated case and he clearly had other health issues. I believe sleep studies are safe and closely monitored by professionals.  
  If you have concerns, ask your doctor.
  But, please, don’t let your sleep apnea go untreated. While it’s a bit odd to be watched, sleep studies are a necessary step on the road to safe sleeping.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review of SoClean sanitizing unit

  The SoClean CPAP sanitizing unit definitely falls under the category of “What will they think of next?”
  I recently had a chance to try out the interesting device from Massachusetts-based Better Rest Solutions. In a nutshell, you put your mask (with the hose and straps still attached) in a black box a bit larger than a toaster, set the timer and bacteria and mold are blasted away in a few minutes.
  Perhaps that is oversimplifying things. The process is very scientific and, dare I say, ingenious. Inventor Timothy Leyva, who suffers from sleep apnea, created a device that generates “activated oxygen” and pumps it through the CPAP reservoir, hose and mask.
  The SoClean user guide reports activated oxygen is a natural process that kills bacteria, mold and viruses upon contact.
  The machine only needs to run for about five minutes but the items should be left inside for about 2 hours to complete the process.
  “The SoClean allows for daily, hands-free sanitizing of CPAP machines,” said Leyva, in a press release. “Having a freshly-sanitized CPAP machine will prevent bacteria build-up helping to avoid respiratory infections and make for a significantly better user experience.”
  Leyva added, “Knowing that the CPAP is always clean, ready, and safe to use increases the likelihood that sleep apnea sufferers will wear it every night.”
  It is definitely much less labor-intensive than hand-washing everything. In fact, the timer can be set just once for the SoClean to run at the same time each day. Just drop the mask in, close the lid and be on your way.
  The best part is that the cleaning occurs without having to disassemble everything. Trust me, us CPAP users hate that. (So much so that it leads to putting off much needed cleanings). The device hooks into the CPAP unit so the reservoir is being cleaned at the same time as the mask via the hose.
  SoClean is touted as an environmentally-safe means of avoiding bacteria build-up that occurs over time even with regular soap and water cleanings.
  There is a distinct scent that your mask has when it emerges from SoClean. The company describes it as a very mild bleach smell (similar to after a thunderstorm) that can be dissipated by blowing air through the mask for about 15 seconds prior to use.
  This worked for the most part. The scent takes some getting used to but the mask (and the air I’m breathing through it) does feel clean. The convenience is certainly welcome for this CPAP user who has a busy life like everyone else.
  SoClean is a bit intimidating when it arrives but I was able to figure it out via the manual and instructional videos online. Once you are in the groove of using it, it couldn’t be more simple.
  Regular readers of this blog know I’m a steadfast advocate of CPAP use and anything that will increase its effectiveness and the chances of people sticking with it. SoClean falls into this category.
  Visit for much more information.
  Also click here to see an effective graphic from the company about the impact of sleep apnea.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guest opinion

  In researching CPAP-related issues, I’ve learned as much from regular folks as the experts.
  There are a wealth of support groups, message boards and online communities, such as Sleep Guide, that enable apnea patients to compare notes and bounce ideas off each other.
  Careful though, the majority of websites in the CPAP world are trying to sell you something.
  I’m sharing a recent email from John Matyskiel, who has been kind enough to read my blog and has used CPAP for about three years. I’m sharing his thoughts verbatim because he highlights successes and frustrations others have surely experienced.
  He doesn’t sugarcoat and keeps his expectations for CPAP therapy in check. Yet, he embraces the treatment as life improving much like I have.
  Take it away, John.
  “I’m on my third mask. Each has been an improvement over the last.  There is no substitute for trying a type of mask, and for at least a month or two. You learn what you are sensitive to, and how you like or hate things like how the hose must be placed, etc.
  You might improve without getting to sleep nirvana. I remember being disappointed in my first months with CPAP. Wasn’t I going to leap out of bed in the morning? Wasn’t I going to say goodbye to fatigue? Nope. But I have eliminated the worst symptoms, my energy level is better, and I would never ever go back.
  One of the things that delayed my adoption of CPAP was the idea of having to be attached to a machine. I was in my 50s, relatively healthy, and I was going to be dependent on a machine?? I don’t know if other people have that reluctance.
  My biggest CPAP problem right now is something that is rarely addressed. I swallow some of that high-pressure air. It sounds stupid, but it’s bad enough to give me cramps and other symptoms that affect my sleep.”