“I Threw My Father’s CPAP Away…”

“… almost!” a patient in his late 40s vented out his frustration about his father, who had recently started using CPAP for his sleep apnea. Surprised by this unusual outburst, I just looked on waiting for him to elaborate. 

“I used to visit him every week. He used to doze off in the recliner when I would talk about my business or my son! He just wasn’t interested. But, now, ever since you put him on CPAP, he has so much energy he is driving me crazy. Now, he is telling me how I should run my business, how I should raise my son. He goes to his every single soccer match and drives the coach nuts by giving him constant advice.” 

Well, this is a rare side effect of CPAP use! Continuous Positive Airway Pressure keeps the throat open and allows sleep apnea patients spend enough time in deeper stages of sleep making them wake up alert and energetic.

Dr. Patel SR and his colleagues reviewed twelve trials of CPAP (706 patients with OSA) and published the findings in Archives of Internal Medicine. The meta-analysis found that CPAP reduced the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) score an average of 2.94 points more than placebo. 

The ESS is a self-administered questionnaire designed by Dr. Murray Johns of Epworth Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. It provides a measure of a person’s general level of daytime sleepiness or their average sleep propensity in daily life. It has become the world standard method for making this assessment.

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy significantly improves both subjective and objective measures of sleepiness in patients with OSA across a diverse range of populations. Patients with more severe apnea and sleepiness seem to benefit the most.

Patients have in fact over the years shared with me this improvement after they started using the CPAP.

“Doc, I did not know how sleepy I was until I started wearing CPAP.”

“As if a hazy screen has been lifted off my eyes.”

“I thought it was all stress and aging, but now I feel young again.”

“I am thinking clearer. I am planning better. I am getting more done at work and at home.”

“I have so much energy that I don’t know what to do with it.”

“He is used to come home and doze off watching TV. Now, he does laundry, cleans the house, takes the garbage out…”

“I should have done this a long time ago.”

In summary, if your family member is inattentive, unreceptive, lethargic and sleepy, please convince that person to get treated for sleep apnea. And after that be prepared to tactfully channel the resurgent energy, and enthusiasm!

Peace. Bliss.