Last Monday night I did a Sleep Lab. That’s where you sleep overnight in a hospital suite, where you are wired up by dozens of wires – especially from the skull – for the different patterns of brain waves during sleep- and also over the body, to pick up other muscle movement. And you get monitored by a nurse in an observation room. They can see you by infrared light camera, plus via all of those wires. They go through the wall to a computer, and you are watched by nurse. They do this to a group of people, each in separate rooms.
That goes on all night. In a later appointment, the sleep specialist discusses the ways you went into various levels (4 levels) of sleep, plus REM sleep. As well, snoring is monitored, and the breathing pattern. They’re looking for the occasions where the soft palate collapses, blocking the airway and causing cessation of breathing – that’s sleep apnoea. As well, they monitor the level of oxygen in the blood.
All of this is in order to check my performance using the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure) device that I’ve been using most of the time since 2004. Yes – that’s a long time! I’ve been using a CPAP pump which delivers slightly pressurized air through my nose to my lungs when I sleep. It was set at 9 cmH2O, meaning the pressure of a column of water 9cm high. The current doctor, whom I met when a different illness put me into hospital, picked me up as a “likely customer” when I was using the CPAP device in hospital. He does sleep labs. I hadn’t been checked for just 13 years! So I did a sleep lab!
It was OK – I sleep well with my own mask, which covers only my nose, into which the pressurized air is delivered at 9 cmH2O.
BUT … they found that to prevent the collapse of my soft palate, they needed to increase the pressure from 9 cmH2O up to 15 cmH2O.
BUT again … they found that at that pressure, the air escapes from my mouth! That wasn’t happening previously, but is undesirable because it reduces the pressure applied to the soft palate .
HENCE .. they needed to use a different mask which cover my nose AND my mouth. That cost me the tidy sum of $280. The Sleep Lab itself cost me zilch – I suppose because I have a high level of private hospital cover. SO … they gave me a free sleep lab, with free supper and breakfast, and close attendance of a nurse during the night.
Here’s the problem! They adjusted up the pump pressure of my own pump to 15 cm. —————–
BUT … when I tried on my expensive mask the first night at home, it was hopeless! The pressure was tending to blast it off my face, making farting sounds. I just couldn’t use it!! What to do???
I found that I didn’t have any instructions in my booklets with the REMSTAR Plus pump from 2004 which enabled me to reset the pressure back to 9 cmH2O, so that at least I could operate at a pressure I was used to. There had to be some trick that enabled the nurse to change the pressure of my own pump back and forth.
Google! That’s the trick. I soon found that I could get into the control settings ONLY IF I held the unplugged it, and held down all 3 of the buttons it has, then plugged it in again! BINGO!
So far, I’ve had a night where I’ve set it from 9 cm to 11 cm, but even that modest increase tends to cause my new mask to leak at the edges, with those “farting” noises! I could only sleep if I tied the mask down quite strongly against my face. So that was last night. not a lot of fun. I got to sleep about 1 am, woke up for the toilet at 2:30 am, then woke up again at 5 am, to a freezing house. I toileted again, and gave away the mask and pump for the night.
Not sure what I’ll do tonight. Might fiddle with the adjustments and loosen them up a bit to see if I can work out some position on my face that sits right without pressure escaping with those peculiar noises. You can’t sleep like that, and neither can my wife! These masks are sold all over the world – surely there’s some way of using them properly!
Perhaps I’ll Google onto a user’s group … good idea!
More to come.