The answer to sleep apnea seems so simple on the surface. Get diagnosed and get set up with CPAP, the front-line treatment for the sleep disorder.
The reality is many people give up on CPAP before seeing improvements in health, oftentimes because of comfort issues. These patients are putting their health at risk before giving the treatment much of a chance.
So what’s the secret to CPAP adherence? A new study in Sleep & Breathing suggests you have to believe in yourself. Confidence that you have control over sleep apnea will lead to quicker improvements and a better likelihood of permanently adopting the treatment.
The study involved 31 sleep apnea patients who were unfamiliar with CPAP. Each subject answered questions about knowledge, expectations and belief that their health can improve, before starting CPAP.
The patients received daily screenings for fatigue, CPAP adherence and mood during the first 10 days of treatment.
Data analysis shows patients who entered treatment with the belief that they can control CPAP saw the greatest overall benefits, including next-day improvements in fatigue and mood. Those who started treatment with inflated expectations were less likely to stick to CPAP.
Patients with less severe cases of CPAP also showed better adherence and overall daily health improvements.
Some patients may never adhere to CPAP. Alternative treatments like surgery or oral appliance therapy may be the best solution for certain people.
Never leave sleep apnea untreated. Risks include headaches, hypertension, cognitive problems associated with brain damage and even death.