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Four hours is my max! When I wake up to go to the bathroom during the night, it's very difficult to go back to sleep. Very interested in what others do.

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I am lucky to be a side sleeper to begin with and have a posture pillow to keep my head level. Deep sleep is also needed to form long term memories. I noticed I could not learn anything new--something vital to my job--and that was one of the symptoms along with depression and forgetfulness that made me see my doctor, who prescribed a sleep study. The reasons for all that was going wrong was revealed there. I feel so fortunate it was something that was treatable and I was determined to make it work. I would have died long ago without my CPAP machine.
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Good going johnnyj...glad you stuck with it. It is a very important treatment in Alzheimer's that has just been really discovered. The deep sleep is needed to help relax and allow the brain to it's job. The simple definition of sleep apnea is the back of the throat closing off. When using CPAP, I've found many people need to side sleep. If you are a snorer, you can still snore with CPAP thus making the machine not as effective. Just realize you might have to change sleeping positions.... CPAP companies make a pillow so you can sleep on side...flat on top & bottom, indented on sides...can even get pillow cases. Also make sure you have fresh distilled water for the hydration container. Good luck to all present and future CPAP users. They are worth working through the ugly part.
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My magic trick is a routine that cues me to fall asleep. You could use a set of neck and shoulder stretches to loosen up and get drowsy. Make it gentle and non-stimulating. What I use is lying down and "writing" the alphabet in the air, first with one foot and then the other. I make it a ritual, and do it every night. It puts me in the mood to sleep.

The problem with trying to go BACK to sleep is that I am too drowsy and lazy to get up and do anything, but not drowsy enough to sleep! Good luck, and know you are not alone at 3 am.
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I have a regular problem with going to sleep, and sometimes falling back to sleep. You should certainly get some fine-tuning of "wind speed" and the fit of your mask. My newest mask has a clip that lets you disconnect the hose without taking off the headgear. Would that help?

I use a bunch of different meds to help. I rotate these so I don't develop a tolerance. I don't use the over-the-counter sleep aids because they make it too hard to get up in the morning. They do help you stay asleep. Maybe cut the pill in half? I've never tried that.

I tried melatonin years ago with no success, but tried it again recently, and it does work pretty well. The Internet says that 3 mg is the correct dose. Before I read that, I bought two bottles of 2-for-1 10 mg pills. They work fine, but the internet says if you keep taking them, they will stop working. So I use that only once a week. Sometimes I take an Ativan, but only once or twice a week. I use one or two ibuprofen or one or two Tylenol. I also have an herbal sleep aid that works. They all last "too long," so I take them a little early.
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Hi ferris1. I do not presume to know about your husband's medical conditions, but if he has sleep apnea and it goes untreated, his decision is ultimately fatal. Of course, that's his and your choice and you are welcome to make it. Just make it with that understanding, which is what I was trying to point out. If he already has a terminal illness, which you did not mention, it's a whole other issue. Having a comfortable and relaxed ending is a good goal, and in that case the issue of the harm of sleep apnea is not a factor. Hope things go well and you have a healthy year in 2016.
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JohnnyJ - do not presume to know what medical conditions my husband has and when he chooses not to use a CPAP, that is his right. As his MPOA he still has the ability to tell me he hated the CPAP and having a terminal illness makes it HIS decision as well as mine. Normally, I would agree with folks having other degrees of sleep apnea, but at 118 lbs. and no other health issues, for us, he just elevates his head and he gets 7 - 8 hrs. of sleep. Happy New Year!
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You don't say how old ur. This happens with menopause and afterwards. I read before going to bed but have read this is not good. Either is being on the computer. Keeps your mind going. When I have a night like this, I take a couple of Advil. Seems to relax me. If you tend to play on computer or phone before bed, try to go off an hour before bed. Relax in front of TV.
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Good points JohnnyJ. There are many health reasons for working towards a good night's sleep with Cpap. It's vital. There are different kinds of machines, different kinds of mask, nasal pillows (which I use), techniques for positions, etc. When I found out all the complications from not getting proper oxygen during sleep, it scared the hay out of me. Fortunately, I was a good candidate and took right to it, but some struggle. It is doable though. It's worth the work to get it right.
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4 days is not nearly enough to get used to it for some people. Everyone with sleep apnea should know about the damage it causes. When you stop breathing and the oxygen level in your blood starts falling, your heart starts racing trying to get oxygen to the brain. Finally, your body gets a jolt of adrenalin to make you gasp and breathe again. Adrenalin irritates your arteries and your body's response to irritated arteries is to lay down cholesterol, which then clogs your arteries. There is a 100% correlation between sleep apnea and arteriosclerosis. The latest research is also suggesting a link between sleep apnea and developing Alzheimer's disease. It is in deep sleep that the brain does its house cleaning, removing the sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer's. More research is being done on that aspect. Sleep apnea is not something to shrug off because the machine is difficult to adapt to. Get further info, a different mask, an operation to correct the problem, but do something to address it. My newest machine automatically adjusts the air pressure to my needs with each breath. I didn't know how much pressure I needed depends upon what position I sleep in and changes as I change position. Other healthy things, like exercise, help insure a better sleep. If I am just too wired, I resort to sudoku or crossword puzzles and find myself sleepy in about 20 minutes. Best of luck--don't give up! I've used a CPAP machine for 10 years now and won't even try a nap without it once I understood the damage sleep apnea causes. I needed a quadruple by-pass operation shortly after mine was diagnosed. And my 42 year old nephew needed a by-pass operation and only afterwards did they discover he had sleep apnea, too--probably the cause.
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This was a very big problem for my husband. Since you have to unhook yourself from the CPAP contraption, go to the bathroom, then come back and rehook up yourself is not conducive to peaceful sleep. He lasted four days on his machine and I returned it because he couldn't get restful sleep. Depending on the level of your sleep apnea (his is mild), try elevating your head with several pillows and see if that helps. You need your sleep!
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I take it that you are using the CPAP at night and are getting 4 hours of sleep. Is your cpap machine a rental? If so, the company normally has a representative that you can call and they will review the SIM card and determine how you are actually doing and make recommendations. I'm in my 7th month on CPAP and love it. I'm averaging between 6-8 hours and they are of good sleep.

I will also suggest you check your AHI or number of incidences to make sure they are low. The reason is that maybe your air pressure is not adequate. And if your pressure is not adequate, it can cause you to have to go to the bathroom during the night. Very low AHI has prevented me from having to get up to go to the bathroom, so that is a thing of the past.

Also, is your machine automatic, so that it starts on a lower pressure and then goes to higher later on? Maybe your machine needs adjusting. Mine starts on 4 but goes to 6 later on. The lower pressure in the beginning allows me time to drift off to sleep. I don't awake when it goes to 6.

You might seek support from Apnea websites. They have some great communities with awesome ideas and years of experience. Many are helpful. And of course, consult with your doctor about it.
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GrandmaLynn provided a wonderful answer. Your CPAP is important to your health but in part because it is supposed to enable you to sleep, not keep you from sleeping. Not everyone has a good experience with CPAP, and there are other options, apparently. Your first step is to check back in with your sleep doctor. There may be changes that can be made, especially if you haven't upgraded systems in a while. Our doctor was talking last month about an automatic CPAP that automatically senses, breath by breath, how much additional air pressure is needed.

The problem is that if you have obstructive sleep apnea, you have to address the loss of oxygen and the ramp up of adrenaline every time your body starts to "choke itself" in the middle of the night. Over time, that can damage your heart and other major organ systems.

If newer technology isn't working for you, you may want to explore other options.

We'll pray for you to rest well! You need it!
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CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is prescribed for people who have sleep apnea. I have used the CPAP machine for over 15 years. In that time the technology has changed, and so have my needs. I see my sleep doctor once a year to review how my sleep is seeming to me. The machine I now use has a computer chip in it that allows him to review my sleep history. At the last appointment - in August - he increased the pressure. That helped quite a bit. My sleep became longer and deeper. I also changed masks to a slightly smaller one a couple months ago. Big improvement. But there are times when pain wins out, and I find if I get up and read, I can often get back to sleep for another four hours. Last night I was up for 1.5 hours - finishing a really good book. But then I went back to bed and got that extra four hours. I hope you will make an appointment with your sleep doctor and see what suggestions he/she may make. Or see another sleep doctor who will listen to your concerns. It took three times for me to find a doctor who has really worked with me. Good luck. Sleep is a wonderful thing.
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CPAP has nothing to do with not being able to go back to sleep. My husband and have used them for years.
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I'm interested in why CPAP is part of a question about getting back to sleep. Do you use it, and do you find it difficult to get back to sleep because you have to put it back on when you go back to bed? Or is it simply a matter of "you've had a nice sleep and are now no longer sleepy". Or does someone else use it and it keeps you awake?

Having struggled with poor sleep for years, especially after my children were born, I have developed techniques that generally work very well for me personally. Some of them are against recommendations but work well for me. I think you need to be confident in trying new techniques, give them long enough to see if they will work, and most importantly, don't stress about it. For many people the biggest factor keeping them awake is the frustration and agitation about not being able to drop back off to sleep.

From the point of view of insomnia after an initial sleep, some people find it helpful to get up and make a warm drink or some such small task. Not me! Straight back to bed after the toilet before I wake up too much.

Avoid caffeine in the evening. You may go to sleep ok after caffeine but I find I will sleep lightly, wake regularly and struggle to get back to sleep.

Be comfortable, not too hot and not too cold, and not overly exhausted or in pain helps as well. If your feet get cold initially but then overheat, wear loose socks you can easily slip off in the night. If your feet/legs are cold but the rest of you is too hot, put an extra folded blanket across the bottom of the bed. It took me many months to realise that my body (and my mattress) had changed enough with time so that I was marginally too warm which caused vivid dreams which were often unpleasant and had me wakeful afterwards. Cooling off my upper half more than I had in the past was enough to change the pattern.

No computers. The blue light wavelengths have been proven to wake you up more by telling the brain that it is "daylight". Having said that, my most dependable way at the moment is to play a repetitive game on my DS or iPad. Not an exciting one, but something repetitive like growing crops or counting. Before I used those I used to play sudoku. The effect is a bit like the old fashioned idea of counting sheep (which never worked for me). No brain training or shooter
or racing / competitive games which get your adrenaline up.

Reading is also good. But use a red light. In the dark that is usually adequate light to read by without waking your bed partner and there are no blue wavelengths to tell your brain it is daytime. But careful which book you read! For years I would read in bed and it was very effective many times. However if you are really caught up in the book it can keep you awake, or you may do like I realised I was doing and continuously shake yourself awake again because you wanted to keep reading. So read something not too exciting and be aware of when you are sleepy enough to set it aside and drift off. Use a torch/flashlight with a red lens rather than the bedside light so you don't have to move much when you do get sleepy. That wakes you up again if you are just teetering on the edge. And leaving the light on is not an option. Have the room as dark as is reasonable from a safety aspect. If it gets light early, have blackout curtains or cover your eyes. Wearing eyecovers is a trick I learned when the early dawns in the summer where I live would wake me at 4am or so. I found if I put them on when the light wakes me, the gentle pressure on my eyelids often sends me into a deep and restful sleep, although I cannot tolerate wearing them all night.

Maybe you are awake because of anxiety, worrying about all the difficulties and problems in life (which are hugely magnified in the middle of the night by the way). The distraction techniques above are very helpful. Or maybe you are wakeful because you are a busy person and have much to do during the day. Try having a pad by your bed and making a list of the tasks for the next day that you are worrying about, then you don't have to try and remember and can relax.

I hope you find some of these ideas useful. I know that people will get to a point where they are actually too tired to sleep. If I get to that point, for me taking a couple of paracetamol (acetaminophen) tablets works a treat. Other people may actually need to use sleeping tablets once in a while. However, if you use CPAP that may not be advisable and it also worth remembering that most prescription sleeping tablets are addictive and should only be used very short term or intermittently.

Good luck and sleep tight!
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I don't think the CPAP machine has anything to do with how long you sleep. It just ensures that while you are sleeping your sleep is not disrupted by having your air passages close.

When you get up after 4 hours and then go back to bed, do you put the mask back on?

How long have you been using the CPAP? Did you have this problem of not falling back to sleep before you started the CPAP? I found it took a long time to get used to all the noises and air flow. Now I generally get up once during the night and get back to sleep easily. For me one key is to be sure the mask is fitting good, and there is no noisy leakage around the seal.

I am in my fourth year of using a CPAP and I definitely get 8 or more hours of sleep.
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I have had the same problem for years, but found the following solution which works for me:

Instead of laying in bed not going to sleep, I get up, go into our home office which has a couch, and lay down with my current book. 90% of the time, the book is falling from my hand and my eyes are closing within 20 minutes and I sleep fine the rest of the night on the couch.
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What does CPAP stand for? Sometimes I go back to sleep, sometimes I can't. I try to lie still and rest as I believe that helps my body. If I am too restless, I turn on the light and read, or pray. I may ask God to help me go back to sleep. If I become more awake, I may turn on the computer and entertain, inform or educate myself. I try to keep up the other aspects of my health, eating right, exercising, etc. If I get really behind in my sleep, I catch up during the day when my 91 year old Mom is napping. It is a problem for many people. Once at 3:00 AM I asked the INternet, "Why can't I sleep?" I got many good articles. Hope you will find some good answers.
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