There are other routes you can take if you ultimately just can’t adjust to CPAP therapy & after giving it all your best try over a period of time. Besides the Inspira mentioned above (which requires surgery & anesthesia), you might ask your Sleep Doctor if the electrical leads put on your face for the sleep study indicated that you have TMJ, Bruxism or some other Malocclusion in addition to Sleep Apnea (they all usually go hand-in-hand with sleep apnea). If your Sleep Doctor confirms that in fact you do, ask either him, your Primary, a trusted Ear, Nose & Throat doctor (who are also very good to consult anyway to find out if you have any other structural problems, too, like a deviated septum or constricted turbinates - your nasal passages, or even if your nose & throat indicate you have allergy problems), or then an Allergist/ Immunologist for a referral to a special type of dentist called a Maxilofascial Specialist (& is often a M.D./Surgeon in addition to being a D.D.S.) that specializes in the treatment of these conditions that have caused you to have sleep apnea. This type of dentist can make a special type of splint for your mouth (they’ll take a panoramic X-Ray & take mouth impressions to make one just for your mouth only, & there are different manufacturers of these splints they usually prefer over another, but it’s always good to discuss various ones before spending money on one, as they’re rather expensive, but then they also last a long time). It’s a way different sort of splint than the ones people wear after braces or to treat TMJ or Bruxism only, or from the ones you can often find in a pharmacy or grocery/retail store that says it treats TMJ &Bruxism (those kind usually don’t actually do a lot of good & will be a waste of your money, though they’re better than nothing when it comes to Bruxism). These special splints treat Sleep Apnea & TMJ & Bruxism (all three) & they can be readjusted as necessary to better fit your lower & upper teeth & they re-align your jaws & stop your tongue from sliding to the back of your throat & thereby causing an obstruction to your breathing while your sleeping, which is what is actually happening with Sleep Apnea. These also take awhile to adjust to & they’re often the only treatment you need to use to correct Sleep Apnea, but you, your Sleep Doctor & the Maxilofascial Dentist can decide if you only need the splint, CPAP, or if it would be better to use both together while sleeping.
I have been on CPAP since 2012 & it did take me awhile to get used to using my CPAP machine, especially in that I’ve had a very hard time finding “the perfect mask” for me. I’ve tried many, many masks & mask types & personally I prefer the nasal pillows mask, even though the XS is still too large for my nostrils & they give me pressure ulcers inside my nostrils after a short while. Because of the nose ulcers, I’ve had to switch back & forth between the nasal pillows mask & a nasal mask (which only covers the nose, not the whole face) every couple of weeks. But I get an ulcer under my nose from the nasal mask, too, (& I’ve tried multiple types of these, too). After a couple of weeks with either I have to switch back to one or the other. We’re looking to see if there’s something pediatric now, since I’ve had so many problems with all these masks & my face is rather small.
& I do use the commercially available mask cushions for both types of these CPAP masks (they’re available for full face masks, too) These cushions make your mask more comfortable, stop skin irritation & oftentimes are the solution for a better mask seal. I buy my mask cushions through Amazon, but some Durable Medical Equipment companies (DMEs), Breathing Solutions companies & some pharmacies carry them, too. You can Google “CPAP mask cushions” to look at the different options for different mask types, where you can buy them & what price best fits your budget. But I’ll tell you right off that these reusable (which I prefer as they’re more economical) or single-use cushions aren’t covered by insurance. Thank goodness they don’t cost that much & are a good value considering the discomfort your mask might be causing you & making you wake up at night or to not sleep as well or as long as you would if your mask was more comfortable.
I have both the CPAP & the splint, too, but truthfully I haven’t been able to adjust to the splint as well as I had hoped & oftentimes find that I’ve either removed it in my sleep or it’s caused me to wake to remove it. & Actually, I prefer CPAP over the splint. It all a matter of an array of different solutions for treating Sleep Apnea & it takes time & a willingness to try & try again different approaches to find out what best works for you.
The comments above about breathing exercises are also really good, too. Mindfulness & meditation (& good old fashioned prayer, too - to each our own) help a lot to center yourself & calm you down & slow your heart rate & respirations so that you can fall asleep easier, more regularly & stay asleep better, as well as achieve better quality sleep. Practicing “good sleep hygiene” is also very important in helping you to fall asleep & sleep better (you can Google that, too, if you don’t already know what to do).
I f you have any problems with learning breathing techniques, you might consider the following: One of my friends, who has asthma (as I do, too), told me she uses a spacer with her inhaler (it’s a plastic cylindrical tube that you fit the inhaler on one end & a breathing mask on the other end (comes in face sizes & it’s not a CPAP mask; it’s made specifically for the spacer) & it has a porthole in the tube that lets you breathe in & release air. She told me that it’s helped her a whole lot in learning how to take deeper breaths, hold them longer & exhale more slowly (the porthole will make a whistling sound if you breathe out too quickly or too forcefully) & has helped her to learn how to control & regulate her breathing before bedtime. I’m using one now, too, & I don’t know why my Allergy/Immunology/ Asthma doctor didn’t recommend one to begin with - it’s so much easier to use an inhaler with the spacer. But if you’re not asthmatic, you could possibly ask a friend with asthma if they might have an extra spacer they might be willing to give or sell to you. If not, you could possibly buy one from a DME, Pharmacy, an Online Breathing Solutions store, or Amazon, etc. I will tell you now, though, that these are sometimes covered by insurance for asthma patients & sometimes not, & therefore you might have to pay out of pocket if it’s not covered (they range in price depending on which one you buy & who from, but I’d say somewhere between $25-$40). And, you really don’t need a prescription to buy one either, but it would be great if you could get a recommendation from one of your doctors about which brand their patients seem to prefer or they think is best (I like the Respironics spacer; it has a more rigid mask & maintains a better fit on my face) & what size they think you will require for a good facial seal before you buy one. But first, I would ask a Pharmacy, your Primary or your Allergy/Immunology/Asthma doctor if they happen to have a dummy inhaler (that they get from drug company representatives to show kids & adults how to use an inhaler properly) they’ll either give you or would be willing to get one for you (they should be free), as you’ll need this component to use a spacer. Then when you have both, you can see if it helps you learn to practice breathing techniques better. I added a spacer to my inhaler & do my breathing with that when I use my inhaler, including right before bed. It slows respirations, heart rate & calms me, so I can usually slip off to sleep easier most nights.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for a prescription for sleep aid medication to use every now & then. Sometimes it’s very necessary & if you use it only when you really can’t get to sleep no matter what you do (& after getting up to read a boring book & having a soothing herbal tea, like Camomile, or try some other holistic calming technique or product - check with your doctor first to make sure anything herbal won’t interfere with any medications you might be taking), there’s no shame in having to resort to using them as necessary.
Ignore people who judge you. You & your doctor(s) will be the ones to go on this journey together & everyone’s journey is different. You & your doctors will learn what works best for you & whatever is necessary to treat Sleep Apnea or related problems is nobody’s business (except perhaps your significant other), but your own.
Best of luck.