When you use a CPAP machine to treat your sleep apnea, then you know that winter can be a tough time. Cold air, a noticeable lack of humidity, and the greater likelihood of colds and sinus issues can make sleeping difficult.
Why is this? Just think of what your nose does! When you breathe in, your nose moistens and warms the air. It has to work extra hard when the air is cold. Extra blood is needed to do this, but that does two things. First, it narrows your nasal passages, and second, your body increases the production of mucus to protect the nasal passages. This can lead to a runny nose and nasal congestion. Trying to sleep at night using your machine may seem almost impossible! But here are some things you should know to overcome these issues:
- Before using it, make sure your CPAP mask is heated up. Do this by closing windows and heating up your bedroom, or placing the tubes underneath your clothes so that they get warmed up by your body heat.
- Use a stand-alone humidifier in your room or get a humidifying attachment for your sleep apnea machine.
What happens if you do get a cold or sinus issue? There are ways you can still get a relatively decent night’s sleep, including:
- Use a saline nasal spray. It adds moisture to your sinus passages. It can also help relieve any swelling so that you can breathe easier.
- If you decide to use a decongestant, remember to take it early enough so that it is working by the time you go to sleep.
- In general, you should keep using your sleep apnea machine to help get rest. However, if you are incredibly uncomfortable, take a short break from it until your cold symptoms have improved.
If you need advice about the ways to improve the use of your CPAP machine during winter or when you have a cold, contact your doctor. Having the knowledge is first line of defense in beating Old Man Winter.