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Your Secret Performance Weapon - CPAP Sleep Reports

October 17, 2016 | |

You’ve been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea and prescribed a CPAP machine. If your machine is less than five years old, it most likely, has a reporting feature where you can access and monitor the effectiveness of your therapy and quality of your sleep each night. Therefore you have a secret weapon if you read your CPAP sleep reports!

Sleep Monitoring for Peak Performance

As sleep comes to the research forefront, effective and quality sleep is being credited with improvements in many aspects of day to day life. Even elite athletes are utilizing sleep quality as a metric of performance. Sleep reports can zero in on when a person is at peak performance level to make critical decisions, giving that person an advantage over someone who is ignoring their sleep. Attaining quality sleep by accessing statistics from a highly sophisticated health monitoring system can give someone an edge in business, sports, critical thinking and the ability to focus.  Giving credence to this wave, NFL teams now hire consultants to help coach and monitor their player's sleep hygiene and habits. Interestingly enough, if you use CPAP therapy, a person can gain access to very similar information which can help evaluate their individual sleep hygiene and quality!

Why Monitor Sleep?

When the body receives quality sleep, decision-making becomes more effective. To the contrary, when sleep is reduced by as little as 1.5 hours for just one night, daytime alertness is reduced by as much as 32 percent. Get just an hour less sleep and most people will tend to be moody, exhibit worse judgment, and won’t perform up to potential or expectations. People who did not meet their sleep requirement are more likely to get into car accidents or be responsible for workplace injuries. And it’s not just the individual…if there is a bed partner, tossing and turning, snoring, or late-night TV watching is most likely impacting the performance of the sleep partner as well.

If that isn’t enough of a reason to consider getting a better nights rest, consider the long term negative impacts of sleep deprivation from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or other sleep disorders including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Depression

Maybe part of living the dream involves a good night’s sleep and monitoring your CPAP sleep reports. You’ll be thinner, smarter, faster, stronger, and more alert!

Why the NFL is Embracing Sleep Health

NFL Sleep Reports

In a recent Bleacher report, Mike Tanier wrote about a new trend in NFL coaching where teams are monitoring players' sleep to make decisions about which players will see more game time. They are also raising player’s awareness of "Sleep hygiene" because as Tanier states: “sleep is becoming the elite athlete's secret weapon, and the NFL is just starting to discover how to harness its potential.”

Study after study has shown that getting a good night’s sleep helps not only with physical exertion, but with work, concentration and judgment, diet or weight loss, memory and many other brain functions.

Ways the nfl measures a good night’s sleep

In many of our posts, we discuss how sleep has come to the forefront and opened a new frontier in health and well-being. Sleep, or lack thereof, has been shown to directly contribute to brain disorders such as poor mental focus and stroke and many things in between. To understand just how far sleep monitoring has come, elite athletes and the teams they play for are pushing the envelope in their quest for a performance edge. Monitoring sleep and the hiring of sleep coaches has becoming fairly commonplace especially among the NFL. Sleep is now being used as tool to improve not only performance on the field but also the quality of life.

Many years ago, the idea of a tough NFL player was one of staying out late and not worrying about sleep – the tough didn’t need sleep. Now, sleep is an integral part of an NFL’ers season training. Sleep coaches have begun to promote and integrate better sleep quality and hygiene among their respective teams in an effort to improve recovery

So how do NFL coaches know when their players haven’t gotten enough sleep – or high quality sleep? After all, hooking up athletes to polysomnographs in sleep labs every night is certainly not practical. Obviously, it’s necessary to build quality sleep mechanics without intruding too much into a player’s life. Many coaches are now using new technology and others are simply using morning survey for players to self-report the quality and number of hours they slept. Some teams implement bed checks before games to ensure their players are asleep in their hotel rooms. New wearable sensors like FitBit and other wrist sensors (that translate the amount and quality of sleep into a performance prediction) are available and beginning to be modified to help with sleep study. However, teams haven’t universally accepted this technology because it raises personal privacy issues. At the very least, teams have begun educating their players about “sleep hygiene” to improve performance. In particular, as players travel away from the comfort of their bedrooms, integrating quality sleep habits with striving for peak performance on the field becomes critically important and potentially provides a slight edge in competition as better sleep quality has been shown to improve overall performance.

How We Monitor Sleep

Of course, not many of us are lucky enough to be elite athletes or have sleep coaches. However, what many of us do have are CPAP machines with effective reporting mechanisms to help monitor not only the quality of our sleep but the effectiveness of sleep therapy.  These CPAP Sleep Reports typically show how well your sleep therapy went last night and improvements historically. They will also reveal ways it might be tweaked to improve your sleep quality and, in turn, daily performance. Of course, our time in the 40 yard dash is not important, but our daily performance at our job and our relationships within our family are critically important to quality of life.

Sleep Hygiene

With a CPAP machine, it is important to strive for compliance (compliance is usually defined as 4 continuous hours wearing the mask each night). It’s still recommended that adults aged 18-64 get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. However, sometimes sleep eludes us. Many of us travel and don’t sleep well in unfamiliar environments. Even more of us deal with stress on a daily basis which is a major contributor to poor sleep quality.  Also, the actual amount of sleep isn’t always the problem. Most times, it boils down to the quality of sleep not the quantity of sleep. The body recovers and heals during different phases of sleep, so if a person gets 8 hours of light sleep, never moving into a deep sleep pattern, they will feel tired because they did not get the full benefit of a deep, full phase night of sleep. Thus, it is important to review sleep data to make sure deep healing sleep is being achieved. Interestingly enough, many times when we don't get enough sleep because we are traveling, under stress, or something disturbs our sleep, a simple, good nap will help before making a big decision.

Sleep hygiene is also another burgeoning field trending not only in athletic circles but among sleep physicians. Sleep hygiene deals with the act of preparing your body for sleep and creating effective pre-sleep routines. Things such as limiting caffeine and alcohol, sleeping in a cool (68 degree), dark and dry room, turning off smartphones while in bed, and limiting late night TV. Following a consistent routine and schedule should ultimately aid in meeting the body’s sleep needs and help it recover from the daily grind.

Why Sleep Hygiene Can Improve Performance

Research shows that if you don’t get a good night’s sleep it will negatively impact work productivity, relationships with co-workers and clients and overall quality of life. By getting better quality sleep, concentration improves, learning a new task is easier, memory recall is more consistent and the ability to communicate is much more pronounced. At work, negotiating with others, solving problems, and feeling more satisfied by having done a good job at the end of the day contributes to improved internal and family happiness.

Now for Your Secret Weapon...

Recording of data from CPAP machines got its genesis from government healthcare programs that wanted to monitor their patients to justify its continued equipment payments. Manufactures started with a simply SD card which could be downloaded onto a software program by a doctor to review results. Many older machines still function in this manner. The most recent machines now typically have Bluetooth modules which wirelessly transmit sleep data to an App. Many CPAP machines are now connected to mobile apps which can be read at any time or can be brought to a physician for review. However, the biggest benefit is the fact that people can now review their sleep quality on their own. They can make determinations about sleep quality from actual data being delivered directly from their nightly sleep to their CPAP machine. This, of course, has many potential benefits for the average person just looking to improve a few aspects of the sleep and, in turn, daily life.

What’s in this Usage Data?

  • Compliance data (Days above 4 hours of usage)
  • The patient's apnea/hypopnea index (AHI)
  • Leak rate of masks
  • Total pressure blowr hours
  • Total therapy hours
  • Mask fit
  • Here is an example of a typical usage data report:
CPAP sleep quality report

Tailor Your CPAP Machine for Comfort

Even though the CPAP pressure settings can be fixed unless you are using an auto-adjusting machine, there are a few settings which can be personalized:

  • Humidifier settings for the amount of moisture and air temperature.
  • Ramp feature which allows users to begin therapy on low setting so it’s a more nature process for falling asleep.
  • Mask leak helps to determine if pressure increases is due to your mask moving are not fitting properly
  • Exhalation pressure relief reduces pressure on exhalation to produce a more comfortable breathing process.

By monitoring sleep quality with your CPAP sleep reports and following a good sleep hygiene routine you can become a rock star at work and at home, capable of making better decisions, having a better attitude and enjoying quality time with others. . By taking control of your sleep, you begin to re-take back a better quality of life. Use your CPAP sleep reports to improve your life!

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.