It’s the white elephant in the room. The thing no one wants to notice much less talk about. How does a couple where one person uses a CPAP machine at night get past the “unsexy” factor of the machine to keep the bedroom a romantic spot?
The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, or CPAP, is a device used by people with obstructive sleep apnea who have a problem that causes their airways to collapse during sleep. Their breathing essentially gets cut off multiple times during the night.
With a CPAP, the airway stays open, so breathing is possible. Sleep becomes much more restful and solid. Untreated sufferers of sleep apnea never feel fully rested, which can result in chronic sleep deprivation that can be life-threatening. And last time I checked death is not too sexy.
Many people who participate in the support group at www.sleepapnea.org share very positive remarks about the experience with a CPAP. I think I would, too, if I suddenly got a good night’s rest. But there are plenty of detractors out there dying to complain about this device.
The CPAP machine is the best we have right now for treating sleep apnea. It also shuts up the snoring that frequently accompanies that apnea (unsnoring partners listen up: data shows that sleeping with a snoring bed partner makes you lose about 1 hour of sleep!).
But it’s no surprise to me that for some couples, the CPAP is derailing romance more than snoring or any other disturbance in the bedroom. There’s nothing sexy about being hooked up to a face mask with hoses and whirring sounds that can seem like you’re sleeping next to a little motor, or in the case of your partner’s CPAP, Darth Vader. This is such a triple-edged sword, though.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, troubles in the bedroom leads three in 10 couples to sleep in separate bedrooms. What’s more, about 25 percent of people with partners and 10 percent of singles admit that sleep problems leave them too tired for sex. But what happens when the solutions to sleep problems become a new problem for getting it on? And how can you otherwise solve the sleep problems that also put a damper on sex?
My answer (and I don’t think this is all that revolutionary): schedule sex before bringing out the CPAP and stop looking for excuses!
Let’s get real, I don’t think it takes a CPAP machine to kill the moment. There are so many other issues we deal with that can make having a vibrant sex life equally as challenging. How about the hours we put in at work? The late-night TV watching and e-mailing? The kids’ distractions?
I believe the number one reason people don’t have sex as frequently as they’d like is because they feel too tired. So if the CPAP provides restful sleep, it can save your sex life–you can’t have it both ways! You need the CPAP to capture the Zs to deal with your day–and have energy left over at night.
Certainly you can think of a million reasons–other than a CPAP machine–for why you’re not feeling randy. You’re simply not trying hard enough (no pun intended). Think of CPAP as standing for “can put away promptly.” It’s not a permanent fixture. It’s like a piece of clothing you can take off… just as you would for sex.