Snoring Is Hindering Your Gains! Get a CPAP
For the longest time, I had a reputation among my family for being a loud snorer. Really loud. If you tried sleeping in the same room as me, you would experience a night of absolute torment and misery from the Dodge Challenger revving up across from you. While my reputation for being a loud snorer was a running joke, things became more serious when I was told that I would completely stop breathing while asleep and my chest was pounding for air. Sure enough, I would remember during some mornings where my heartbeat felt like it was racing right after calmly waking up. There were also times I felt dizzy upon waking up, as if I had stopped breathing and was oxygen deprived. After researching about possible risks I’d be facing without having it checked out, I scheduled a sleep study with my healthcare provider.
Long story short, after doing my sleep study I was diagnosed as having severe sleep apnea. For those of you who don’t know, sleep apnea is a condition in which you have pauses in your breathing while you sleep (which causes you to snore). The pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes (!), and can occur up to numerous times per hour. These pauses essentially lead to poor sleep quality, and can make you feel tired or under-recovered even after a full night’s sleep. In some cases, the pauses can be so disruptive to your sleeping pattern that you will often wake up during the night to breathe for air – all happening while you’re barely conscious and your memory might not recall it happening the morning after. During my sleep test, I was diagnosed as pausing an average of 53 breaths an hour during 1 night of sleep. When I was reading off my results along with a small group at the respiratory therapist’s office, I peeked at the results of another guy and he had an average of 72 paused breaths per hour. As one can imagine, this was a problem that had to be treated and thus, I eventually had to purchase a CPAP machine.
CPAP is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and is a treatment in the form of a machine. As how the name of the machine is derived upon, a CPAP will output a continuous supply of air pressure into a breathing mask that will allow for its wearer to receive air pressure all throughout his/her sleep cycle. The air pressure will the user’s breathing airways open, and thus directly treats sleep apnea. As of this time, using a CPAP is the most effective method of treating sleep apnea and no other form of treatment is adequate to treat moderate or severe cases of apnea. It is important to note that there is no actual cure for sleep apnea, and it can only be addressed through treatment. So if you use the CPAP machine for a period of time and try sleeping a night without it, you will still suffer from sleep apnea and have the same symptoms as before.
I have been using my CPAP since August, and it honestly took me a couple weeks just getting used to sleeping with the damn mask on. And not only was it just a matter of wearing the mask, but also adjusting to having air pressure siphoned to you while you’re breathing. My first few nights with the mask on absolutely sucked, and I hated it. Seeing as how I had no real choice however, I persisted with using it and now sleeping with it on is a non-issue. Not only does the CPAP completely eliminate my snoring, but I feel amazing the morning after upon waking up. The first morning where I really felt that the CPAP made its effect had me saying first thing in the morning “HOLY SHIT I FEEL LIKE A GOD”. I’m not being paid to promote CPAPs, I’m just socially awkward and say weird shit like this all the time. Anyhow, it’s made all the difference with being able to recover more quickly from training sessions and getting a CPAP was one of the smartest decisions I made in 2016.
Enough about me, let’s talk about you. One thing I really want to stress in this article is that if you snore while you sleep, there is a chance that you suffer from sleep apnea. If you stop breathing completely at least several times an hour during your sleep, you have sleep apnea. The only real way to know you have sleep apnea is to have a sleep study done so your brain waves, blood oxygen levels and heart rate can all be measured. You don’t need to be a 400 pound man or physically overweight to suffer from sleep apnea – though being heavier in bodyweight can make your case more severe. My respiratory therapist informed me that sleep apnea is considered largely to be a genetic condition, and if one of your parents snore, there is a good probability that you will end up snoring during your sleep as well. If you feel tired even after sleeping for 6-8 hours, or wake up coughing during even a nap – do yourself a favor and schedule a sleep study with your healthcare provider. If for some reason you don’t currently have health insurance or your plan sucks, you can theoretically opt to forgo the sleep study procedure entirely and purchase your CPAP through the internet. I personally believe that you should see a medical professional and have an actual sleep study done prior to using a CPAP, but I know powerlifters who decided to just skip doing the sleep study and bought their CPAP online.
There are several different face masks you can use with your CPAP, with the most common mask being the “Nasal” model that solely covers your nose. During a normal sleep cycle, you solely breathe through your nose and your mouth stays closed while you sleep. The Nasal model is considered to be one of the more comfortable masks you can wear, as opposed to the “Full Face” model that covers your entire nose and mouth. If you’re a “mouth breather” that can’t sleep without opening your mouth, you will end up having to use a Full Face mask. There is also the “Nasal Pillow” model which I have heard is the most comfortable model to use, and minimizes the amount of gear you have to wear over your face.
Though I started off by using the Nasal model, I hated it and found myself waking up choking for air regardless of the fact that I had the Nasal mask on. After a consultation with my respiratory therapist, I tried using a Full Face mask and I instantly liked it much more than the mask prior. In my personal case, I sometimes suffer from congestion during nighttime and allergies can prevent me from being able to breathe adequately through my nose. Since I need to breath through my mouth at times, the Full Face mask addresses my needs and I have my best night’s sleep with it on. One note that’s important to point out is that the continuous airway pressure from a CPAP will not cure any nasal congestion or allergies you might have. If you know that you’re dealing with congestion ahead of time, do yourself a favor and ask your healthcare provider for a Full Face mask when you receive your CPAP.
I am by no means trying to give you medical advice, and I’m too stupid to tell you what exact treatment to follow if you think you suffer from sleep apnea. What I do know is that plenty of powerlifters suffer from apnea. I think it is OK for me to disclose that some of us at Jesse Burdick’s gym have severe apnea, and we all use CPAP machines. We can all tell you that using a CPAP for treatment has made such a big difference in our sleep quality, and it is one of the contributing reasons as to why some lifters on our team makes ridiculous progress in a relatively short period of time. Your ability to recover is the #1 priority when you’re performing your hardest blocks of lifting during a training cycle. If you are able to recover quickly enough and contend with tough training sessions, you will get stronger. If you’re not recovering adequately, you’re putting yourself at risk for not performing well in training and increasing your chances of injuring yourself during your routine. Getting a good night’s sleep plays the biggest role in your recovery. It plays more of a role than training properly, eating properly, or even supplementing with Vitamin S to recover faster (maybe not, but I’m trying to stress how important good sleep is). The best lifters understand the importance of recovery, and plenty of the top tier lifters you know use a CPAP.
Take care of your health and schedule an appointment with a medical professional if you think you suffer from sleep apnea. You won’t regret your decision to take ownership of your health and the decision to become a better athlete. Until then, TRAIN LIKE A MUSCLEBEAR, EAT LIKE A MUSCLEBEAR, AND LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS TO GET FUCKING JACKED LIKE A MUSCLEBEAR! Just don’t sleep without a CPAP on like a Musclebear. Holy shit.