September 21, 2013
For A Lovelier You, Use Your CPAP
If you want to be more attractive, use your CPAP machine. If you have sleep apnea, as I do, you know all of the good reasons why you should use your machine every night. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and stroke. The therapy of choice is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that keeps the airway open during sleep by delivering a stream of air through a mask.
Now the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Michigan has given us a new reason to wear the thing. It will make us look better. Lead researcher, Dr. Ronald D Chervin stated, “We perceived that our CPAP patients often looked better, or reported that they’d been told they looked better, after treatment,” says Dr. Chervin. “But no one has ever actually studied this.”
To test the idea, the research team used a face-measuring system called ‘photogrammetry’ to capture 3D digital photos of the faces of 20 patients before and 2 months after CPAP therapy. Medical professionals and people from the community rated the images for alertness, youthfulness and attractiveness.
They found that 68 percent of the raters saw the post-treatment images as looking more alert, 67 percent said the images were more attractive, and 64 percent rated them as more youthful.
Computer software analysis also found decreased redness under the eyes and cheeks and decreases in forehead surface volume, which could be the result of changes in nightly fluid shift.
A separate study from the University of Stockholm also confirmed that “sleep-deprived people are perceived as less attractive, less healthy, and sadder than those who have luxuriated in the yearned-for eight hours,” as reported by the Atlantic’s James Hamblin. These researchers photographed 23 healthy adults once after a full night’s sleep and once after 31 hours of being awake. “Untrained observers” were asked to rate the pictures for listlessness, dejection and 10 measures of physical beauty. The sleep-deprived people had more hanging eyelids, red swollen eyes, dark circles, paleness and wrinkles. They appeared sadder.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, between 12 and 18 million US adults have untreated OSA. Maybe this list of beauty-killers will persuade some of them to get tested.
I will admit that there are some pretty big hurdles to overcome to get started on therapy. The initial tests provided me with just about the weirdest night’s sleep I’ve ever had. You go into a sleep clinic. They hook you up to electrodes on your head, neck, chest and legs. Then you go to bed right there in the clinic, and they watch you sleep all night. This in itself is pretty eerie. I didn’t think I would ever get to sleep, but apparently I did. Going to the restroom, however, was quite an undertaking.
You do this twice, once without a machine, and once with one. I found out that not only did I snore, but I stopped breathing many times during the night. Obviously, not good.
When you get home with your machine, the first few nights are grim. You can’t get comfortable. I tried not to think about what I looked like with this elephant proboscis suspended from my nose. I was determined to give it a good shot before I gave up, and within a very few days, I felt so much better that I now won’t go to sleep without it.
It took a couple of tries to find the right mask. I found that one with what are called “nasal pillows” works best for me. These are little button-like tubes that fit right up to the base of the nostrils, creating a seal. With these you don’t need a mask that covers your nose completely. I like them because the masks left marks on my face and irritated my skin. Different people have different preferences.
I have now found a mask that is actually pretty comfortable. It doesn’t touch my face anywhere except for my nostrils. I have actually come to find the tiny sound of the air stream to be soothing, and I usually fall asleep as soon as I put the apparatus on.
So, use your CPAP machine and get your beauty sleep. After you get used to it, you will be glad you did.
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com