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Adventures in Sleep

The Case of His and Hers: CPAP Therapy

Published March 3, 2011 8:39 AM by Amy Reavis

I have had a rash of husbands and wives lately. Some couples did the tests at the same time; others figured out their problem only after their mate was treated.

From my days doing homecare, I know that the support a husband and wife give each other to get tested and to use their equipment can be the difference between success and failure on their road to health.

I started the month with a husband and wife who needed sleep testing. The husband said the wife was a restless sleeper and the wife said the husband snored like a freight train. With this information, we made certain assumptions about how these studies would go. Little did we know that they had no idea what really happened while they slept. 

The husband had so many leg movements that you thought he had jogged a 5k in his sleep.  He snored a little big and has sleep apnea, but his restlessness was not what we expected.

The wife? Now, she could have given a freight train a run for its money, which makes me wonder if her snoring was actually causing her arousals. She snored and gasped and has worse sleep apnea then her husband. 

They came back for their titration and did great. I know -- having done their titration and the support -- that they are the perfect support for each other as they start using their CPAPs at home. With the change in both of their sleep, they should see a happier household and marriage as well. 

My other couple was a husband who had a sleep study three months ago. He came for fatigue, and because his wife said he was snoring. He had significant sleep apnea and was put on a CPAP. His wife is still restless at night and it turned out she snored as well. She came in for her titration study and needs a CPAP as well. She already knows what to expect because she had the opportunity of watching her husband adapt. He had a tough go of it but he is using his CPAP every night and is feeling better. 


Amy, this is a great topic. I have also seen alot of couples in my sleep center and it is great to see them support each other. I had the pleasure of getting to speak to one couple after they started using cpap at home. They said that they rub their "elephant noses" together to kiss goodnight. It was funny and sweet. I also agree with the comment that we need to do more than just send people home with cpap and leave it at that. I remind my patients that cpap won't make them lose weight but it can help them to have more energy to be able to and to take advantage of this.

Amy Wilson March 16, 2011 10:06 PM

I do agree with you Amy but after working in sleep for 7 years the majority of patients were overweight. Yes I do believe CPAP can help them lose weight. Most doctors put their patients on CPAP and that is the end of it. These patients need to also have nutrition and weight loss programs offered to them Just look at the Biggest Loser. The participants suffered from sleep apnea and after weight loss it was gone. It can be done just need a multidisciplinary team to work with these patients instead of just handing them a CPAP and leaving it at that. I know repeat patients are great for business but the ultimate goal should be weight loss. And yes there were some patients with issues besides weigth that caused sleep apnea but they were the minority.

Sue March 8, 2011 5:35 PM
Rochester NY

I know there is the belief that every person that has sleep apnea is overweight but this is not the case.  I see many patients who are overweight and I see many who do not have a weight problem but do have a sleep apnea problem.  Like with any condition sleep apnea has several causes including anatomical issues such as a long soft palete or a large tounge.  

I have also seen that many of my cpap patients end up loosing weight after they were well rested.  So this therapy can be one step in a change in lifestyle.  We just have to be supportive of our patients and encourage them to use thier therapy as well as make lifestyle changes.

amy reavis, Sleep - Manager, Emery Sleep Solutions March 8, 2011 2:19 PM
Apopka FL

It would also be nice if this couple could support each other in a weight loss and exercise program. I see so many couples that are overweight. CPAP just puts a band aid on the problem . Weight loss is a permanent solution.

Jane Gaudio March 8, 2011 1:07 PM
shepherd MI

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    Adventures in Sleep
    Occupation: Sleep technicians
    Setting: Various sleep facilities
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