May 11, 2018

 The CPAP is touted as one of the most amazing ways to feel normal and healthy again after suffering from sleep apnea. It does take a little getting used to, and those beards can sure get people into hairy situations. Some will claim you have to get rid of the beard. We’re here to tell you that’s not the case. Everyone is different and will have to decide on what works best for them, of course. But having to choose between facial hair and a good night’s sleep is no longer a contest.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder typified by irregular breathing. One of the most common symptoms is snoring. A CPAP machine provides steady air pressure to the wearer’s respiratory system, alleviating obstructions. Different masks are prescribed for various forms of sleep apnea, but almost all of them require an airtight seal between the wearer’s face and the ventilator mask.

There are solutions, other than shaving that facial hair, that will lead to restful, much-needed sleep.

sleep-apnea-with-a-beardsleep-apnea-with-a-beardUse a nasal pillow. This is probably one of the most recommended options. It’s small and doesn’t cover your face. It has two small prongs that seal against your nostrils. Facial hair doesn’t affect this one way or the other. The only drawback is this only works for people who breathe through their noses at night. If you typically breathe through your mouth, you were probably given a prescription for a full face mask, so the nasal pillow probably won’t do the trick. Best to check with your doc or CPAP professional.

sleep-apnea-with-a-beardsleep-apnea-with-a-beardUse a mask liner. If you need to use a full face mask, it probably looks something like this one You probably can’t get a good seal with a mustache or beard, unless you pull it tight to your face. The problem is, pulling as tightly as it would need to be can be painful and uncomfortable, defeating the whole effort to get a good night’s sleep. Luckily, there are mask liners and pads. The liners, for example, are designed to fit a specific set of masks, offer a better opportunity for a good seal, are reasonably inexpensive, and also help reduce irritation from the silicone mask. It’s adjustable and lasts about six months, the same life as most masks. You may still need to pull the mask a bit tighter, but not uncomfortably tight.

sleep-apnea-with-a-beardsleep-apnea-with-a-beardMatte your hair with wax or gel. Not everyone likes this option because it can take some time to find the right liquid that will create a seal at night, without creating extra grooming effort in the morning. If your hair is thinner, you may discover aloe or a little petroleum jelly does the trick. If your hair is thicker, or course, you may need to rely on a thicker styling gel or wax. Mat your hair down and try to let the added layer of moisture create a seal. Try the lighter options first and work your way to something thicker.BEARD SENSE is a light beard oil that moisturizes hair and skin. It contains conditioning oils and smells great, so with a more substantial application, it might just do the trick.

It’s not just about the mask. It’s about the fit. If options seem limited, talk to your doctor or CPAP professional about trying a few different masks until you find the one that works best for you. And ask them about nasal pillows and liners. They have probably seen everything and can make some personalized suggestions. There are workarounds for just about every hairy predicament. Your health and well-being are important, so use your CPAP, but know that shaving is not a must if you’re willing to experiment while looking for the solution that will work best for you.