My husband with sleep apnea can't use a mask, what other treatments are available?

5 answers | Last updated: Sep 23, 2016
56june asked...

My husband has been diagnosed with sleep apnea and also insomnia. He struggles to get to sleep, so he won't wear the mask.He says he can't get to sleep with it on. Any suggestions?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person's breathing stops and starts during sleep, usually from an obstruction in the airway. This means that the brain is not getting enough oxygen during sleep, causing daytime fatigue and headaches. The sleep quality is poor, as the person will wake up alot at night, causing insomnia.

Many people struggle with wearing the mask (BiPAP/CPAP) for sleep apnea, so your husband is not alone. In mild cases of sleep apnea, losing weight, avoiding sleeping pills, stopping smoking, and avoiding alcohol can help. Sleeping on the back should also be avoided. There are dental devices that can be made that help keep the airway open during sleep. These devices are specifically designed by dental professionals with to treat sleep apnea. You can look on the internet to see if one is available in your area.

There are medical facilities that offer surgery for sleep apnea, fixing problems that affect the airway. This includes deviated septum repair or enlarged tonsils removal. There is also a procedure that removes soft tissue on the back of the throat and the roof of the mouth, increasing the opening of the airway.

You already know about the CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)device. This treatment is a mask which is worn over the nose and mouth while you sleep. The mask is hooked up to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the airway at a positive pressure, which stops the apnea. Just so you know, this is considered by many to be the best treatment for sleep apnea.

Hope this helps!

Community Answers

Imadiver answered...

My husband also struggled with the "mask" and refused to wear it (I slept in another room). Until I saw an ad on an infomercial (of all places) for a "pillow" type devise. Tiny and comfortable, it fits under the nostrils so there is no bulky "mask" to deal with. It was a miracle and he's been using it for years, we even travel with it because he knows it helps. It was available through the sleep clinic he gets his supplies from. Have your husband (or you) check with your hospital and talk to their sleep clinic people! This is what my husband uses

Ca-claire answered...

Check with your durable medical equipment supplier. They can have your husband meet with a Respiratory Therapist. There are many types of CPAP/BiPAP masks available. Some are just nasal pillow (like imadiver explained), some cover just the nose. New styles come out all the time. Get creative, as it is extremely important for your husband to get a good night's rest, and to do that, the CPAP/BiPAP needs to be on. You will both be healthier!

Cheesie answered...

I count to go to sleep. But it takes more than lots of sheep. Thee is a specific process that works well for me. Have a digital clock with illuminated time showing within sight at your bed. You are interested in only the one's digit of the minutes. That's the right-most digit. Start by counting the number of times you breathe during one minute. As you start to relax, you will breathe fewer times per minute. I usually start around 15 breaths per minute. Within ten minutes or so, I'm down to 10 breaths per minute, without making any effort to slow down. Each time the digit changes, start counting again at one. If you lose track, don't fret, just start again at one the next time the ones digit changes. I'm usually asleep in ten minutes or so. Try it. No drugs, no cost, just something that's enough to keep you from concentrating on the cares of the day or what you have to get done tomorrow.

Ca-claire answered...

Watching the clock itself can cause a problem with sleeping. Another way to 'count sheep' is to start at 100 and count backwards by 7. It will consume your mind concentrating on counting backwards by this odd number. Before you know it, you will be asleep, and maybe only made it to 72 or so... Try it!