Monday, August 19, 2019

Our $5 DIY Sleep Apnea Solution To Keep John From Dying

[Trigger Warning: Everything's fine, but there is a death scare below. Skip if you're feeling panicky.]

[Also if you just want the DIY without the back story, skip ahead to the "Read More" jump.]


I've been hinting about it long enough, so here's the deal:

Just over a month ago I started noticing that John stops breathing in his sleep. He tends to snore, so the sudden silences would wake me up. I'd count down a few seconds, start to panic, and nudge him into a sudden gasp for air. We agreed he should sleep on his side, and started looking into ordering a sleep study for him.

Shortly after that - just a few weeks ago - I woke up to silence again. John had been getting annoyed by my constant nudges to get him to roll over, so I did my best to wait, to count down a few seconds. Surely he'd breathe soon, right? Nothing. His chest wasn't moving. I forcefully shoved down the rising panic and tried to say something softly, but it came out as a squeak. Still nothing. No movement. No sound. I reached out to touch John's arm... and it was ice cold.

FULL BLOWN PANIC.

I grabbed John and let out a wail that was half his name, half sheer terror... and a millisecond later he gasped and sat up, panicking himself over why *I* was making that sound.

We were up for hours after that. After my tears dried, John swore to me he'd do whatever it took to ensure this never happened again. His doctor's appointment was still weeks away, though - and a sleep study would be weeks or months after that - so we started searching for ways to at least keep John on his side while he slept.

Side-sleeping is critical for anyone with apnea who doesn't have a CPAP machine to help them breath. When you're on your side your tongue can't fall back and choke you, and sometimes you won't even need a machine if you sleep on your side, as in my case. (I have mild apnea, but only if I'm on my back. Since I've trained myself to stay on my side, I don't need the machine.)

The problem is, John LOVES sleeping on his back, and despite his best intentions, would inevitably roll over in his sleep and start to choke again.

The common solution for this - as any cursory Google search will prove - is to sew a Tennis ball into the back of your shirt. The theory is the ball will poke you if you roll over, and wake you up just enough to get you to go back on your side.


            If you're not feeling crafty, you can even buy a shirt like this on Amazon for just over $20.

I'm sure the Tennis Ball method works for some people, but here were our issues with it:

1) We have a soft memory foam mattress, and John's built like a linebacker - so it's conceivable he could still roll over on the ball without waking up.

2) Even if the ball did wake John up, that means he's waking up a lot - which isn't very restful. Wouldn't it be better, we thought, to have something that physically won't LET him roll over?

3) John wears a fresh sleep shirt each night, so we'd have to make LOTS of shirts with balls in them. Ug, SEWING.


So we kept looking, and discovered the only other side-sleeping aids were a variety of "bumpers" and backpack-like apparatuses:

 This "Bumper Belt' looked promising, but the widest strap goes right over the pectorals (ouch) and it costs over $100. Double ouch.


The Slumber Bump has less straps, at least:



... but this could twist around your waist unless it's snug, and John didn't want a tight band around his middle while he tried to sleep. (Also this glorified fanny pack costs $75. Dang.)

We were in crisis mode, so our first solution was to work with what we had - and it was surprisingly effective:

 (Suki will help demonstrate...)

We stuffed two throw pillows in a backpack, and John wore that to sleep. This supported John completely on his side, so no matter how he tried, he couldn't possibly get onto his back.

Within two nights, John reported he was already feeling more rested. Between no choking and no Jen-nudges, he was finally getting some uninterrupted rest!

The stuffed backpack wasn't a permanent solution, though: after a week the straps were leaving marks on John's shoulders and upper arms, where they cut into his skin as he shifted around and put his arms over his head. (He likes to sleep on his stomach with his arms up sometimes.)  Not to mention the backpack was obviously VERY bulky in bed, ha. Nothing like getting whapped by a giant nylon bag when your hubby rolls over in the middle of the night, lol.

We had a few ideas for a new backpack we could sew, and decided we wanted to use pool noodles, since they're firm but extra light.

When John went to the Dollar Tree to buy the noodles, though, he instead found something we'd never seen before, and which turned out to be the perfect solution:


 It's called a Noodle Booster, and it's meant to fit over pool noodles to make them extra floaty.

John brought two home, and in less than 5 minutes constructed the ultimate Side-Sleeper Aid:


 Ta-daa!

All he did was tie the two boosters together using strong cord, and then put two adjustable belts through the Booster centers. (Most of John's cargo shorts come with these canvas D-ring belts, so we have a whole basket of them.)

So to sum up, all you need are 2 Noodle Boosters, 2 belts, and a cord to tie the boosters together. THAT'S IT.



I know it looks strange, but this thing has been a life and sanity-saver for the past few weeks.

Here's how it fits:

 


Me: "John, this is a serious post about a potentially serious issue and we're trying to relay some serious information here."

John:

LOL

 These bumpers only stick out about half as far as the backpack, and overall are a third of the size and weight, so they're infinitely more comfortable:

 They still completely support John on his side, though, and prevent him from rolling even partially onto his back. Bonus: the foam texture is slightly grippy, so it holds firm and doesn't slide back on the sheets.

If you find that the straps are too restrictive, you can sew in a small section of heavy-duty elastic to give them a little stretch. John hasn't found that necessary, but it's an option to make them more comfortable. Just don't use ALL elastic, or it won't hold you up properly.

Since this saga began John and I've begged and cajoled our way through all the medical red tape to get a sleep study done. After John's breathing tests some absolutely phenomenal ladies at Florida Lung, Asthma, & Sleep fast-tracked a sleep study for us (I think they saw the tears in my eyes), so we only had to wait a WEEK instead of the usual month. I really did cry then, I was so grateful.

The study results were sobering, and confirmed my fears: John stopped breathing over 65 times per hour. That's more than once a minute! No wonder the poor guy needs a nap most afternoons, yeesh.

We're still in medical limbo waiting on a CPAP machine, but 'til then, at least we have this side-sleeper to keep John safe and breathing easy. I only hope our solution helps someone else out there, too! Whether you're also waiting on a machine, or just need a way to stay on your side to help with snoring, it literally doesn't get any easier, cheaper, or more effective than this DIY. The hardest part is just finding the Noodle Boosters, since I don't see them online. Check your local dollar stores - and quickly, since Summer is almost over! If you do find a store that carries these, leave a note in the comments to help others find them.

[UPDATE: It turns the Noodle Boosters are a new product ONLY available at limited Dollar Trees. According to the manufacturer they won't be made again until next year, so grab 'em if you see them!)

As I'm sure you can imagine, this experience has been harrowing for both me and John. Since the Big Scare I've been obsessively waking up through the night to check on John's breathing. Even now I keep starting awake in terror, as I've internalized the fear to an unconscious level. Between that and then spending our days fighting through all the insurance mess and scheduling tests and follow-up appointments, both of us are feeling a bit worn out, ha. Thank you all for the support and love, even when you didn't know what was going on behind the scenes. Just another reminder to be kind, because everyone is out here fighting a hard battle.

This isn't our prettiest craft, and it's definitely not our geekiest... but if it helps even one person avoid what we just went through, it'll be our best one yet.


I know we don't usually talk about sleep apnea because snoring is embarrassing, but that means we never know who among our friends has it. Heck, just in the small circle I've mentioned this to, I've learned lots more wear or use sleep aid devices than I ever suspected. So please, pass this DIY along. Share it on your page. You never know who might be awake at 3AM, tearfully googling for a solution - any solution - to help her husband breathe.

I love you all. Go be kind to each other.


P.S. - Just wanted to add: There are several types of mouth guards for sleep apnea that can also help, and John *has* tried one or two. They're not easy to get used to, though, and John finds them too painful. I wanted to mention them in case you're researching your own options, though!

70 comments:

  1. So happy that you've found a solution that works for you until something more permanent is an option. My husband also often stops breathing during the night and it's terrifying. Lots of love from Aus - Kirsty

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  2. I'm so happy you've found a good transitional device. Fingers crossed that appointments get made quickly.

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  3. My husband has sleep Apnea, and the c-pap was the best thing that he's ever done. He had the same thing happen; I would wake up, and realize that he wasn't breathing, and he WOULDN'T wake up. I lost just as much sleep as he did, because i would stay awake to try and keep him from suffocating. Since he's started the c-pap, he's happier, more rested, and * I * feel better. I don't have to worry. (My husband has also lost 55 lbs since starting the c-pap. That helped him, too.) -- JM

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  4. I have pretty bad sleep apnea too, and *somehow* ended Up recording myself for about 30 minutes with my phone In the middle of the night. According to that, I average
    about 3 breaths before stopping breathing for several momentsand then taking another 3 breaths. All freaking night, apparently.��

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  5. This post speaks to me so much! I have been feeling tired all the time lately so in February I asked my gp to refer me to get a sleep study done. The soonest they had available was this last week in August. turns out I have an AHI score of 82.3/hr. It also appears that I have central apnea which is extremely rare and basically means that my brain is forgetting to tell my body to breathe when I'm asleep. Of course I know all of this because the test results were forwarded to me but I can't get back in to see the Dr until November. Also my husband is built the same way and also love to sleep on his back, unfortunately he hates his sleep apnea machine so getting him to use it is so difficult, I will have to see if he would be interested in a device like this. Thanks for posting this!

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    1. Hi, I was reading this post of Jen's again because of today's post about John and noticed your comment saying you couldn't get to see the doctor until November. Well, here it is, almost the end of November and I was just wondering if you got in to see him/her, and if you've got your machine? Happy Thanksgiving!

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  6. Ingenious! So glad it's working!
    I have severe sleep apnea, but wasn't diagnosed right away. I'm single, so I sleep alone. My cat, Frankie, used to "wake me up" when I first started having episodes. I'm sure he saved my life on more than one occasion. I use a cpap nowvand am sleeping much better, which is good...I'm not sure the cats I have now would bother. 😉

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    1. ooh - this gave me chills. Your cat really was a lifesaver!

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  7. I was just reading about the mouth guard that suctions your tongue out last night. I have mild sleep apnea, mild to the point that the doctors "diagnosed" me but wouldn't give me anything for it. Like you, and I'm usually fine if I sleep on my side. I'm debating getting a mouth appliance though, since I've read the research and they do work.

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  8. I’m so glad John is on the road to treatment. I’m just so sorry it was so scary! I have sleep apnea as well, though much less severe. I replaced my unit last year, my other one is about 5 years old. Jen, if your insurance gives you any problems for coverage, I’d be more than happy to send you my old one. It’s a ResMed or a Respironics with the humidifier. I don’t remember and am on vacation so can’t check it. The machine works fine and I would like it to go to someone that would use it.

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  9. To whomever reads this and hates sleeping with the cpap machine they’ve been given, or who has a loved one who doesn’t use theirs, please, please make sure you do it! My husband has horrible sleep apnea (similar to John’s levels) and was prescribed a machine a few years ago. No one ever really said how serious sleep apnea can be, and he hated the machine and rarely used it. Because of his apnea, he ended up getting in a car accident. He drove off the road and down into a canyon. He almost died from the accident, but the doctors were more worried about his blood gas levels. His carbon dioxide levels were higher than his oxygen levels. The doctors at the hospital told us that had he not been in the accident and began using his cpap machine regularly, he would have died either in his sleep or from a heart attack within a month or two. It’s now been six years, and he rarely sleeps without his machine. Take care of yourself and your family and wear the cpap, no matter how much you hate it!

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    1. I would like to add to this warning that a gentleman in my community died earlier this year because of a stroke brought on by sleep apnea. He was on vacation with some buddies who laughed at his snoring the night before, but he didn't wake up the following morning. If I remember correctly he had a CPAP but had left it at home. My dad and my brother both have apnea and my brother wasn't wearing his mask because it was uncomfortable, he makes sure to wear it now.

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  10. Another one here who's hubby stops breathing periodically throughout the night (thankfully I've never had any scares like yours Jen - yeesh, so scary!), but he is exclusively a side sleeper which is maybe unusual. I've been trying to convince him to look into getting a CPAP but he hates the idea of it.

    Meanwhile, as far as I know I don't have any apnea, but I tend to roll onto my back and then I am a heavy snorer - waking up with a dry mouth and a phlegmy throat is not my favorite. I'm totally going to hit up my Dollar Tree to hunt for these for me! Thanks for figuring this out for us!

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  11. An alternative, if you cannot find the noodle ends, would be to take a foam yoga roller, cut it to the length you want, and then use the cord to both join the parts, and the belts. A cheap source of yoga rolls is 5 Below.
    I'm really glad the DIY is helping so much! I do hope and pray that Jen is also able to sleep through the night soon.

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  12. So it took several years of both my parents and my self prompting my sister, kicking her bed, and throwing things at her on family vacations when she would stop breathing, before we got her to go in and get a sleep study. Her doctor ( and a family friend who just started in the field) were horrified by her and her tiny mouth and its effect on her breathing. She got a CPap a few months back and the change in her mood, her rest, in everything has been amazing. Her machine talks to an app on her phone and she can see how many times it has to force her to breath. We celebrate the good nights, and laugh at the bad nights. Last week's high was 41 times an hour she tried to stop breathing.

    This would be an amazing aid for traveling, and when we loose power in storms - for when her machine goes out. or for when i had bronchitis last month and kept wanting to sleep on my back! Thanks so much for sharing this!

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  13. I emailed the manufacturer directly to ask where else we might be able to purchase these. I'll keep y'all posted on what they say!

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    1. Note from the manufacturer...

      "Hi Leah,
      The Noodle Boosters are a new item that we produced for the first time this year for Dollar Tree for a trial in a limited number of stores. We do not plan to produce these again until next year.
      Thank you for your interest in PTI Inno-Wave products!"

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    2. Thank you for the follow-up!

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  14. Oh, hugs. You just lived my nightmare. Between my husband's (untreated) apnea and his inconsistent diabetes control... I've had a couple of episodes like this in 25 years. Bless you! I'm so glad you found an inexpensive solution. Your kind generosity in sharing your solution is awesome.

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  15. I’m two weeks on the machine and been fighting to get it since January. It’s made such a difference! I’m awake!

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  16. My husband discovered that he wasn’t breathing for up to three minutes at a time. The C-Pap saved his life. And my sanity. So scary, but I’m glad you found something that works until you get a machine.

    Bonus: I tell people that I sleep with Darth Vader. 😉

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  17. Let me tell you, I have felt that fear I have BEEN THERE and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever experience in my entire life. My now husband and I both got walking pneumonia and the morning his fever broke, I woke up and he was cold (with sweat), barely breathing (not breathing to my still mostly asleep eyes), and his eyes were partially open for some terrible reason and I absolutely panicked. I freaked out, he woke up super confused, it still gives me chills to think about. I just want you to know you’re not alone in that experience and I don’t wake up in a panic anymore. - Ahna

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  18. Please take this seriously.
    It isn't just in-the-moment-scary but can have significant long term health risks. Most importantly: Tell Your Doctor! Especially if you are considering surgery as this is an added risk.

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  19. Keep in mind, when John gets his machine and stops snoring completely, it might scare the bejeebers out of you. It scared me so badly the first night that my husband had his machine I barely slept. But after that it became clear that my snoring was a problem. So now we have matching Darth Vader machines. :)

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  20. Sleep Apnea is getting incredibly common these days. It took the threat of my bf losing his job before he finally caved to go see a Dr. Luckily his sleep study was done very quickly and they discovered he stopped breathing 83 times a minute! The CPAP machine made such a massive difference it was like living with a different person.

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  21. SO GLAD you found a good solution for the short term. And hey, it looks a little gear-ish, it could be a geeky craft if you squint. I hope getting the CPAP is trivial and getting used to it is a piece of cake. Sunday CakeWrecks cake, that is, not the weekday cakes!

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  22. There are also pillows designed to keep you sleeping on your side while pregnant, which might have a crossover use, and they are designed to be comfy pillows also! This one works:
    https://www.mothercare.com/feeding-pillows/dreamgenii-pregnancy-support-and-feeding-pillow---white-cotton-jersey/210601.html

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  23. My husband has severe sleep apnea too so HUGS for your scare. Been there many times before mine finally went for a study. You'll both sleep better once he has his machine.

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  24. Way to DIY! I actually clocked my boyfriend one night- 1 hour and 82 stops. Glad y'all have this for now, but you'll really be amazed at what the CPAP (OR APAP) does. WARNING - it took me a good 3 weeks to get used to the machine. Boyfriend? nervous and unsure, but asleep within 2 minutes and no issues from the first night on the APAP. But once he is on the machine, he makes no sound, and doesn't move. At. ALL. A whole new world of terrifying. Now I know he is in fact breathing, and his color and MOOD are beyond better. Keeping my fingers crossed y'all get that machine asap. `Meredith

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  25. I hope everyone pays attention to this. I could have used this for my husband 15 years ago. Those of you with sleep apnea - sleep is one of the most important parts of your health. Lack of sleep will exacerbate every tiny health issue and will cause others. If you suspect you have it, do your best to see a doctor or try some of the above mentioned aids. If you are required to wear a cpap, take your time and get used to it, don't give up.

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  26. My husband has sleep apnea too. For years and years I begged him to go get checked, but he refused. I'd lay there all night counting the seconds until he's start breathing again, and I wasn't sleeping at all. Nor was he, except for falling asleep every time he sat down. I started sleeping on the couch, which was miserable, and he still refused to go to the doctor. Finally, I kicked him out of bed...I told him I was going to sleep in the bed and he'd have to sleep on the couch. Finally it sank in for him, and he went right off to the doctor, got his CPAP machine, and has slept like a log for years now. I've got insomnia, which is why I'm up at 3 a.m. reading this.

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  28. I’ve used a CPAP for almost three years. I had no trouble adjusting, thankfully. I recently switched to a Dreamwear mask where the hose is located on a swivel on top of your head instead of hanging off your face. You can sleep in many different positions without getting tangled in the hose. If the first mask John tries isn’t comfortable, keep trying until he finds one he likes.

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  29. I am so sorry you had to live through that. I can't imagine how terrifying that was. And i am so glad to hear everything is alright. God bless both of you.

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  31. After my sleep study (during which they determined I stop breathing 64 times per hour), the nurse explained that your body heals itself in early stages of sleep and your BRAIN heals itself when you are in REM sleep. People with SA don't stay long enough in REM, which explains so many issues. I've had my CPAP machine for a year & a half and wouldn't be without it. On the rare occasions I fall asleep without the machine, I have terrible nightmares about being held under water and wake up gasping for breath.

    John may HATE the machine at first (I think everyone does), but tell him what my CPAP provider told me: You WILL get used to it. He used the example of getting used to wearing glasses. In my own life, the examples would be getting used to a sonic toothbrush and a bidet. Both were uncomfortable/weird at first, but now I wouldn't be without them. Even if you feel like you want to throw the machine across the room at first, you WILL get used to it. And it will improve your life immeasurably.

    There's a guy on YouTube who goes by "Lanky Lefty", who works in a sleep study center. He has numerous videos and a chat board with tons of great info about CPAP. He's super irreverent/funny (and easy to look at, LOL!) - check him out when you're first getting started; he has all the answers you could want!

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  32. My partner had sleep apnea and used a CPAP for years and had 2 machines with humidifiers. He recently passed away so both machines are available. It does depend on how they are set, which comes from the mfgr but John is so clever, I'm sure he could figure out how to reset the the breaths per number, right now both machines are set for 14. I also recently had a sleep study and have been using a CPAP since January (mine is set at 9). I stopped breathing 65+ times per hour as well. It will take time to get used to wearing the machine but as you've already discovered, it's so worth it! Please let me know if you want me to send you the 2 machines, I'm only in Jacksonville, so not far.

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  33. So glad you have an interim solution; how scary!!
    My dad has insanely bad sleep apnea that he only finally got diagnosed a few years ago. Interestingly, he was in the military and spent some time over in the Middle East, and bad sleep apnea is apparently common symptom of Gulf War Syndrome, according to his doc.
    Anyway, he is on a CPAP but it took him a few tries to get just the right setup. He prefers the full face mask as he finds it less distracting. He also got a machine that heats and humidifies the air, as it was otherwise way too drying for him.
    So, like so many meds, if it isn't working well for him at first, there are lots of CPAP options to try! Best of luck to you both.

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  34. I can't imagine how terrifying that was for you! It amazes me how y'all's response to any problem is "what can we make to fix this?" . . . and then you come up with something! Thanks so much for sharing all your wonderful ideas with the rest of us schmucks. :)

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  35. I'm a nurse in a sleep clinic (office side, not the sleep lab side) and HOLY CROW I'm glad John was able to get a study done. There is definitely a learning curve with CPAP, and there are *tons* of tips and tricks that I'm sure others have mentioned. I like that pool noodle trick, I'd love to show some of the docs I work with. I think for a certain subset of our apnea peoples that would be super helpful. If y'all have any questions I am happy to be a resource!

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  36. Best of luck to you and John getting through this. Unlike many of the commenters here, my biggest difficulty wasn't getting a sleep study or machine, it was the PA at the doctors' office being unable/unwilling to figure out why my machine was making me worse instead of better.

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  37. Has John considered a tonsillectomy? There are two kinds of sleep apnea and it only works with one kind, but if he has that kind, getting the tonsils and adenoids out makes all the difference in the world. It is no picnic for an adult (it gets worse the older you are) but two/three weeks of pain and then no apnea? Totally worth it.

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  38. Thank you for this life saving hack. Apnea is a scary thing, my mom had it. Keeping fingers and Maine Coon cat paws crossed the cpap does the trick.

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  39. Another CPAP user here. I don't have severe apnea, but it was enough to get a machine about 8 years ago. I love it. It's the old ResMed humidified unit but it goes with me everywhere. I even take it camping. One thing that improved my usage was getting a chin strap. My face and mouth relax to the point where I go back to my default mouth breathing without it. Oh, and because the cats were so interested in the tubing (and bit a hole in the first one!) I made a cover for it. It no longer rustles when I roll over so it's no longer interesting to the cats.

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  40. The way John's rockin' that device, it actually looks pretty cool - the ridges of noodle booster give it a kind of gear-like, steampunk-y vibe. If I had one, I would totally call it my jetpack. =-)

    More seriously - Sleep is so, so important to mood, health, appetite - everything in life, really. I'm glad you've got this solution while you get the rest of the medical stuff figured out.

    Have you ever tried those nose strips - Breathe Right and the like? While they don't cure apnea (and I'm not claiming they do), they can help you get more oxygen when you are breathing. If even part of your issue is congestion, it can make a difference. I use them during allergy season and any other time I feel like I need them, and they help me, at least.

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  41. I have heard that if the CPAP doesn't work for you that the BiPAP machines are often more comfortable. I'm so glad you were able to get him checked and figure out an interim solution.

    Unfortunately, I would pull mine off in the night and the insurance decided it wasn't being used regularly enough in the first 2 weeks and it was taken back. :( I wish I could afford to purchase one outright, but they are pretty expensive, even used.

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  42. My CPAP is a lifesaver - literally. Make sure you keep using the bumpers until he gets used to the CPAP though - even though I cannot get good sleep without it, it still took me nearly 2 months to stop pulling it off at night. Also, if he is a mouth breather consider a full face mask. The nose-only masks make me feel like I am choking.

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  43. I've had my CPAP just under a year, and it's literally been a lifesaver, considering how often I was falling asleep driving even a short distance. Thank you so much for this post and for bringing attention to this sort of thing, and I hope he adjusts well to the mask when he gets it!

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  44. C-Pap user here. My apnea is mild, but the c-pap machine has made the difference for both of us! It did take me about 3 weeks to get used to it, but it was worth the struggle. I have a full face mask and use a chin strap since i am a mouth breather. The only time I don't use it is if I have a bad cold and breathing is challenging anyway. Glad that John got the sleep study done and will be getting a machine. Definitely try out masks etc until it is right for him.

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  45. Ugh. I've been going through my own sleep apnea saga over the past several months.

    Fortunately, most people I know who get a CPAP absolutely swear by it. (My sister says that my brother-in-law loves his CPAP more than he loves her, and he's crazy about her!) For me, it wasn't really ideal.

    In my case, the CPAP worked almost too well, because I kept swallowing air, which gave me awful chest pains during the day because my body has trouble burping. Also, since I breathe through my mouth at night, I had to get the full face mask instead of the nose-only mask (if you open your mouth, you lose all the pressure that the machine builds up, which is what helps you breathe), and it was so uncomfortable that I was waking up every hour and a half and ended up getting an average of maybe 4 hours of sleep per night, and I was still having events. (It looks like I very likely have central sleep apnea rather than obstructive. We'll eventually find out with an in-lab sleep study, rather than the at-home study I already took, but that will have to wait a bit, since my insurance is getting ready to change.) :-/

    I talked to my doctor about possibly getting a bipap, but since my insurance is changing, that will need to wait a little bit, too. Fortunately, I seem to be sleeping better, particularly when I sleep on the couch in our front room, since it props me up on my side. :)

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  46. I've been using a CPAP machine 1997. Of all the places I've gotten supplies from, these guys have been the best. https://www.cpapsupplyusa.com/ My dad has undiagnosed sleep apnea and it was probably the cause of his massive heart attack that killed him 25 years ago. Please take this seriously, folks. I just wish Medicaid would get me a new machine because mine 15 years old. At least I'm able to save up for a new mask every other year.

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  47. My husband was the one who woke me up with nudges when I would stop breathing. I agree it's terribly frightening to hear your spouse not breathing. I have a CPAP and oxygen concentrator now.

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  48. Soon you too will experience the joy of being blasted in the face with air when the apparatus slips. Even in a dead sleep, it still makes me laugh though. It's far better than the terrifying alternative.

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    1. I also have obstructive sleep apnea, diagnosed about 5 years ago, and I am on a CPAP. Getting hit in the face when the mask slips can be so annoying, especially when the cushions on the mask start wearing out, and the air leaks out the side, hitting me right in the corner of my eye! I replace my mask and hose every 6 months. I can always tell when my supplies are getting old because I get the air slippage more often.

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  49. For any military veterans: consider going through the VA for your CPAP machine & supplies. We have saved so much money going through the VA instead of our health insurance.

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  50. Just a warning on those Dollartree things - they are seasonal, and they change design every year. They had these great noodle connectors one year, but never had them again. This year they have those, but I don't expect them to stick around for another season.

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  51. Here is my BTDT with sleep issues. Hope it helps somebody.

    My kids are young adults. Both are slim, fit, healthy, and muscular. Both have had sleep apnea.

    My older son had obstructive apnea. Through trial and error I learned that cow milk protein caused his tonsils to swell to the point that they touched in the middle. I also learned that when tonsils are removed before puberty they tend to grow back in early adulthood. Rather than risk general anesthesia, I kept him off of all cow milk protein for several years. That allowed his tonsils to shrink and his OSA stopped. He still snores lightly through his nose but his tongue and tonsils are no longer trying to kill him.

    My younger son had mild OSA but also had central apnea. It apparently wasn't severe enough to warrant treatment and he outgrew it in time. He also had a complete resolution of the obstruction after going through two rounds of orthodontic palatal expansion. The widening allowed his tongue to fit properly in his mouth so it stopped trying to find a home in his throat.

    I have OSA (mostly self-diagnosed I guess but I have some medical training and I wake up gasping and sputtering and have a very high Epworth score, so...) but no insurance so I just deal with it. I have braces on my teeth now but when I am done I will be trying an oral appliance. I work as a dental assistant and my practice does dental sleep medicine. I did a home sleep study for 3 nights and I am a good candidate to try the appliance. That's still about 2 years ago though.

    I know comments about people's appearance are generally considered to be unkind and lately people get all worked up over "fat-shaming" so I will try to say this gently. Excess adipose is never healthy and no amount of cultural shift will change that. For me, it was an endless cycle: Lack of sleep made me fat, being fat made me snore, and so on and so on. For a big teddy bear of a guy, reducing the amount of mass around the throat area may well be a huge step toward lessening the obstructive apnea. I recently dropped 20% of my body weight and I have been sleeping much more deeply and waking up feeling more rested. I still have a ways to go but I'm excited to see how I may keep improving as I (try) to continue to lose.

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  52. Another option would be cup turner foam (ex: https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Cuptisserie-Cup-Turner-Foam/dp/B07Q7S7Y44/). I am not sure if the density is the same but the length is roughly the same.

    Another option would be a foam roller if you have one that has a hole in it. Not sure if the length would be an issue but could be worth a try?

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  53. I’m so sorry about your nighttime scares. I’ve had several people tell me I stop breathing in my sleep, including a college roommate who threw stuffed animals at my head to stop the snoring and huddled inches from my face when there was no noise. I’ve got my sleep study test at the hospital this Thursday. Bad timing, though. I didn’t check the new school year calendar and school pictures are Friday morning. I would just have fun Calvin and Hobbes style if I wasn’t the teacher.

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  54. I remember that exact panic with my husband. It took some strong-arming to finally get him to get a sleep study done. As soon as he had one scheduled, it seemed like every man in our mutual contacts had already gone through the same thing, which helped him feel like it wasn't so abnormal. Turns out he was waking up 120 times an hour. His doctor said he was getting about 18 minutes of deep sleep per night, and then complimented him on still being alive. My husband uses a CPAP now and loves it, but he has central apnea so just side sleeping wouldn't be an effective solution for him. Where would these husbands be without their wives to tell them they stop breathing!?

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  55. A possible alternative solution for John's sleep apnea is for John to learn how to play the didgeridoo, the largest and oldest wind instrument. There was a study published in the British Medical Journal about the effectiveness of didgeridoo playing and the circular breathing technique it requires in the treatment of sleep apnea.

    British Medical Journal article

    Didgeridoo for Sleep Apnea website

    Youtube video

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    Replies
    1. Angel, I love that you suggested this! You're awesome!

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  56. I am SO sorry you had to have that experience and can't even begin to imagine how scared you must have been! Kudos to you both for coming up with a stop gap solution.
    I've had a CPAP since 2003 and can't sleep at all without it, not even a nap. I can't really remember but I was over sixty times in an hour as well, so I know how crazy that can be. The weirdest part of mine, according to the tech, was that he could stop the apnea itself at a fairly low setting but needed to crank it up to 16 to get rid of the snoring! My mom says I've always snored.
    Best of luck getting the CPAP and fixing the problem! I'm sure once he has it, it will settle your anxiety as well.

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  57. This does not beat Angel's didgeridoo suggestion, but my first thought was all the pregnancy pillows out there since folks are supposed to side sleep when pregnant as well. Found this one that looks comfy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J5SMJQJ/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_5bnxDbABARKX7 Might have to duct tape him to it, though...

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  58. Wow, hope you both get all the needed sleep soon and keep on getting better! I've taught myself to sleep on my side due to becoming allergic to something in my building which makes my nose stuff up every night, and thankfully my husbot responds to loving nudges to make him roll over as he is becoming allergic too. (we'd move if we could!) I miss sleeping on my front!

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  59. As a heads up, when I clicked on the link to the didgeridoo for sleep apnea website link it sent me to a scam site instead.

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  60. Husbot had just been diagnosed with sleep apnea when we first met and I will never forget the look on his face on one of our early dates when he told me he had something he needed me to know. In my head, after many bizarre online dating encounters, I thought "he's married, he's got 12 kids, he's a serial killer", only for him to say that he has to use a breathing machine for his apnea. I believe my reaction was "is that all??" Apparently the technician that did his sleep study told him he should tell potential partners this info as soon as possible in case they have a problem with it.

    Thank you for sharing, I hope it can help someone else. Once John's machine arrives, it will be easier, as long as he remembers to pack the power cord for it if you travel or the entire machine for that matter (husbot has done both....those were very long vacations).

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  61. My hubbot does well with the mouth guards. He got a chance to do a sleep study at home with just a blood pressure finger cuff. Of course, he didn't snore at all that night so they figured he was fine ��

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  62. Oh, my heart hurts for your fear and your tears. That had to be a terrifying experience, but the amount of love that you have for each other is so glaringly obvious here. Him promising to find a way to not ever scare you like that again and wearing all manner of things in the middle of the night to ensure this. And you, with your constant wake ups and your feverish searching to give him any relief. It bring tears to my eyes. Tears for your pain and fear and tears of happiness for the amount of love you have for each other. You both give me hope. I love you guys.

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  63. I did the 'tennis ball thing', but I didn't sew in any special pockets, just tucked it inside the waistband of my pajamas and it stayed in place just fine.

    It worked, too. Now I sleep on my side all the time.

    Good luck to both of you! That would certainly be scary!

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