With the holidays rapidly approaching, our minds and bodies are racing to get through an endless to-do list, with proper sleep sometimes being sacrificed in the process. For everyone, the lack of sleep can lead to fatigue and lack of concentration, and it can leave us more susceptible to the holiday blues. For those who live with obstructive sleep apnea, there can be additional problems and worries.

If you are already struggling with CPAP therapy and getting a good night’s sleep, the frustration can be worse this time of year. The following tips to common problems may help make your holiday season merrier:

  • Are marks from your headgear leaving you self-conscious for your holiday parties? Many manufacturers make CPAP headgear mask covers/pads for less than $10 that can be placed over your straps, minimizing those morning marks.
  • Does your mask leave the bridge of your nose or face sore? Maybe you should consider CPAP mask liners. You can find disposable and reusable ones for full face or nasal masks. Not only do some wearers like them to alleviate marks and pressure points, but liners can also help to create a better seal and alleviate leaks for some CPAP wearers.
  • Do you have problems with water (rain-out) in your CPAP tubing? Rain-out is caused by condensation. If you have a heated humidifier and non-heated tubing, the process of air cooling as it moves through the tubing will leave water. This problem can be worse in the winter, when the room temperature is much cooler than the temperature of the air coming out of your CPAP.  Heated tubing will keep the air warmer minimize this problem. Alternatively, some people may look for “CPAP hose covers.” These covers fit over your CPAP hose warm the air as it flows from the machine to the mask.
    • Even though your humidifier should always be positioned lower than your head, there are companies that make “hose lifts”. This is a gadget that positions your CPAP tubing higher so that the rain-out falls back into the humidifier instead of into your mask. Hose lifts also suspends your tubing overhead, keeping the hose from tugging on the mask you sleep.

A few final thoughts:

  • Alcohol can worsen obstructive sleep apnea. If you choose to imbibe over the holidays, try not to do so within four hours of bedtime.
  • CPAP only works when you wear it. With the stress of the holidays, it may be tempting to skip packing your unit for overnight travel. Even if it is only for one night, it’s important to bring your CPAP and wear it where ever your holiday travels take you.

The information provided here is not intended to replace the advice of your medical team. Always talk to your physician, sleep clinic or home medical equipment provider about any problems you are having.  Often times, a simple remedy is right around the corner.  Happy Holidays!