People have always said, Sweet dreams! I never knew what they were talking about. I have never had a sweet dream in my life. Until the CPAP. A few weeks ago, in a dream a famous editor I encountered said, this amazing author did you ever hear of Onol Bilkur? And I do know him! That’s MY Turkish uncle! Definite distinct and clear positive good news delivered in a dream. This has never ever happened to me in my life, until age 61, not once. Before now.
Like a cool bath of oxygen. This depth of rest, I’ve never experienced. This depth of calm, I’ve only experienced once before, that was my first time using prazosin, the adrenalin blocker.
My experience has always been suffering. The best description is, every sensation has the quality of burning. Headache. Bodily misery. That’s just the way things are, folks. That was my opinion. No wonder the Buddha said, life is suffering. Of course he did.
But after 4 or 6 hours of CPAP sleep, it’s like my body is a well of cool water.
I had the wrong idea about the CPAP. I thought it was to stop the choking, the apnea events. That’s not what it’s for. What it’s for is to make your unconscious night breathing much more productive. The point is to pump oxygen into your system. Your lungs are almost deflated, then you squeeze your ribs and diaphragm to push out what little is there, and then pull in a little.
With the CPAP, it pressurizes your lungs and nasal airway, so the lungs are mostly full. Then when your sleeping carcass pushes on it, now it easily pushes out a much greater volume of air. Now your unconscious musculature actually moves a ton of air. It’s like emptying an air mattress, at the end when it’s almost flat, when it’s hard to actually move much air, versus when it’s mostly full, and you hardly have to even push, to squeeze lots of air out of it.
Well that greater volume moved through your lungs becomes a greater amount of oxygen in your blood, oxygen in your brain.
Google “hypoxia inflammation” and the first thing is an article entitled, “Hypoxia and Inflammation: two sides of the same coin.” Most of my symptoms are inflammatory.
In my view the purpose of the CPAP isn’t to stop the pauses in your breathing: that is incidental and relatively unimportant. It’s to change the volumetric movement of each breath during sleep without changing the amount of effort your unconscious body exerts on your lungs, from a little volume of air to a much larger volume of airfor the same effort. If you squeeze a nearly empty air bag, you don’t get much out of it. But if you squeeze a full air bag, you don’t have to push too hard to move a lot of air out of it easily. This is what the CPAP does. So the actual purpose of the CPAP, in my opinion, is to convert a chronic condition of hypoxia in your sleeping body into fully aerated and oxygenated lungs, blood, and brain. Isn’t that a little different from the normal conception?
Another misconception I had was about the velum, which covers the nasal passage from inside the mouth. I thought a CPAP mask would cover the mouth, and somehow breathe for me. But no. The machine pressurizes, first, its own tube, and then, up inside your nose and sinuses, and then, your lungs. But IF you relax your velum and let it just fall down into the mouth, and IF you raise your tongue body so the velum could hang down onto it, THEN the CPAP’s air pressure pushes and holds the velum against the back of the tongue and holds it there like two pieces of paper under a paperweight. They don’t slide, they don’t flap, they don’t separate from each other; the air pressure inside the nasal airway and the pharynx presses both of them outward except neither one is going anywhere, so they just form a nice effortless seal, and the whole channel from nose to lungs forms a pressurized funny-shaped balloon, and this balloon is expanded by the extra pressure in it, and what ends up expanding, the parts inside your skull? No. The tongue shoves forward so it’s not blocking the pharynx entirely. And the lungs expand, the ribs expand, the lungs in their default state are now blown up and filled to quite a bit extra, more than otherwise. And this lets you squeeze the full airbag when your unconscious sleeping body uses its normal little bit of effort to breathe out. This filled airbag effect multiplies that effort and your lungs get more air in them, and that feeds your blood, your brain, and your body. And the breathing-in part of the breathing cycle receives a power assist. So the whole cycle is more efficient, easier, and more productive.
Then the oxygen level is high, and stays high. Your brain can carry out deep sleep. You don’t have to unconsciously detect hypoxia and make your autonomic nervous system pump out some adrenalin to just get a little air in there to just survive your miserable sleeping time. You are good, and you can really rest. And you have plenty of oxygen to do all the cleanup and healing that your body knows how to do during deep sleep, all that deep sleep metabolism that you desperately need, which the failure to accomplish, itself, helps to cause, and perhaps constitutes, aging. No wonder you are feeling a burning sensation all the time. You are in a state of constant inflammation, due to hypoxic deprivation of deep sleep. No wonder I have been sleeping 10 and 12 and 13 hours a night, because my body knows it needs what it can only get through more sleep, but which hypoxic sleep isn’t giving to it. So it sleeps more and more and more and still isn’t satisfied.
This was like the secret main reason I retired, so I could get lots of sleep, and be on my own independent schedule. But now I have like 2-6 more available mentally competent hours in my day. I am suddenly way more calm, less anxious, less miserable. My life of spiritual practices, seeking after some emotional tolerability in an intolerable experience of life, are suddenly rather unnecessary; I feel better without meditation than, before, I felt after meditation. I can’t quite believe it.
The first night I used my CPAP machine, instead of my usual 12 hours, I slept 4, got up, and with a clear and rested mind wrote a 630 line essay in eight hours, before breakfast. You can read it, https://tomveatch.com/benefax.php, and judge for yourself if I was underslept, if I was mentally foggy or not.
Look, your mileage may vary and I’m sure my issues like everyone’s are somewhat unique to me, and my solutions, too. But if any of this makes sense to you, you could just try it, and see. Let your insurance give you a month or two test drive.
I do like the fancy latest gadget, the ResMed AirSense 11, though I haven’t tried any others. I find the nose thing quite comfortable, the machinery quiet, the magnetic buttons on the head straps easy to disconnect and easy to reconnect. I adjusted the airflow, the pressure, and the humidification to how I like it, which took two or three weeks. You have to call them and get the details on a couple of adjustments as you develop your opinions, but they answer and the answers are good, and I’m pretty habitual with the thing now; it’s been about two months. Andrea says, do the vinegar disinfection regularly, you don’t want bugs growing in your airway systems, so I’m good about that.
What else can I say? I recommend it. Don’t be like me and push it away for years for reasons that turned out to be immaterial. Try it out if there’s any doubt. It could be a miracle for you, like, I’m afraid to admit, it is for me.