CPAP Compliance can be a stressful for patients. There are some insurance companies that require a patient to use a machine for an average number of hours at nigh, or risk losing their machine or being stuck with the bill for the CPAP. This risk only makes it harder to get used to using a CPAP at night, which is a big change. And getting used to a CPAP can take months, and the insurance companies are just not patient.
There is no good way to hack into a CPAP to fake compliance. But their are ways that might seem like faking CPAP compliance is “cheating” but it really isn’t Things like talking to your doctor about the settings, diet, trying different masks, and using your CPAP while you are awake are all things that can make a huge difference in your compliance.
I did have a problem with using my CPAP in the beginning. I would faithfully use every night when I went to bed. Then I would wake up the next morning and would find out I turned of the CPAP and took off my mask with no memory of doing so. So I had to get creative on getting used to my CPAP and using it as much as I could.
This “cheating” will get the insurance companies off your back so you will have more time to get used to using your CPAP and ultimately have better success. This is not really cheating. It is really you putting your best effort to get PAP therapy to work for you.
What is CPAP Compliance?
CPAP compliance is the insurance company monitors how often you are using your CPAP. If you don’t meet the required metrics, they can force you to return the machine or have you pay for it yourself. The process is usually the CPAP has wireless technology and your doctor’s office can pull the data from it. The insurance company will get the data from the doctor.
Not all insurance companies would require this. But for the ones that do, they usually want you to average 3-4 hours a night. The main reason is that PAP devices are expensive, and insurance companies don’t want to pay for it if a person is just going to use it as a paper weight or go online and sell it for a profit.
Ways to Increase your CPAP Compliance
Using your CPAP While you are awake
There is no rule or harm that says you can’t use your CPAP while you are awake. Using your CPAP While you are awake can help your body adjust to CPAP. For me, using CPAP an hour or 2 before bed can really help. Most insurance companies require only an average of 4 hours a night. If you use your CPAP for a couple hours and read in bed, you are half way there!
Instead of reading, of course you can also watch tv or play on your phone or tablet. But using those devices can also make it harder to fall asleep. So reading would be more ideal. But the best option is really whatever makes you more comfortable.
In addition to using it before you go to bed, using it when you wake up also works. Sounds crazy? Hear me out on this. If you are suffering from sleep apnea and treatment hasn’t worked for you yet, you are probably most tired in the morning. I know I was. If you wake up in the morning feeling tired, put on your CPAP mask and turn it on. This might be difficult if you have to go to work. But on the days you don’t work, this can really help get your compliance hours in and it can help your body adjust to your CPAP.
This is by far my favorite way and it really helped me get used to my CPAP
This is cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia. Although we are talking about sleep apnea, insomnia is another sleep disorder that could be making it hard for you to use your CPAP. CBT-I is non drug therapy that helps a person beat insomnia. There are simple tips like avoiding artificial light before bed, eating healthier, exercising, having a sleep schedule, and many more.
There is a sleep medicine doctor I follow on twitter. His name is Dr. Brandon Peters. He gives lots of good advice on his twitter account and he has a great book called “Insomnia Solved” that is really a several week program that helps people beat insomnia. It is an easy read and it has helped me get better sleep, not just get used to my CPAP
Follow Your CPAP Stats
Almost all CPAPs have an app you can use to follow your stats. And if you have a computer, you can use a free open source software called Oscar you review your CPAP usage through the night. You can look and see data from when you were getting good sleep, see what happened before your took your mask off. This can be information you can talk to your doctor about.
This type of conversation can be rewarding and the doctor may have recommend ideas tailored to your personal health history that can help and possibly adjust some of the CPAP settings or trying a different mask. Or maybe you need something like a APAP, BIPAP, or ASV instead of a CPAP.
What NOT To Do
Don’t turn your CPAP on and walk away
Your doctor and insurance company won’t care or be able to notice if you use your CPAP while you are awake. But if you turn your CPAP on and leave your house, they will know. One of the stats a CPAP records is air leaks. if you have a high leak rate, it will be obvious that your aren’t wearing the mask. And this will not help you get any more use to using your machine.
Don’t Try To Mess with the CPAP or the DATA
There is some information out there suggesting ways to mess with the hardware to make it look like you are using the CPAP when you are not. This never works. CPAP manufactures are reading the same information and they take these loopholes out as soon as they see them online. This also could void your warranty. It is not worth it.
Don’t Give Up
Don’t let sleep apnea win. Give CPAP a real honest try. If you run into road blocks, seek out help. You have your doctor, support groups, and even your DME company. The DME company may offer a different mask or suggestions as well.
And if you are part of the small population that is not a match for CPAP, there are alternative methods you can talk to your doctor about.
This is a topic I see come up a lot in the Sleep Apnea online community. Someone asks for how to cheat CPAP compliance and many people attack the person saying things like “just use it” or “why would you cheat.” I think that is a terrible way to treat people asking for help. I know it took me time to get used to CPAP. And I understand when someone needs to buy more time to get used to CPAP.
CPAP compliance cheating is not really cheating if you are doing it in good faith. Do something like reading while you are using your CPAP is really an honest way to get your body adjusted to CPAP. You don’t have to use it all night to be compliant. Just a few hours a night is all it takes.