I, like so many, suffer from Sleep Apnea. And, like my beard, it's a big part of my life. The problem is, it's difficult to live with both.
When it comes to treating Sleep Apnea with CPAP therapy, most will tell you that you have to get rid of the beard. They tell you this because, as you may know (or will find out), the CPAP mask doesn't seal against your face when there is beard/mustache hair. You'll get recommendations to use a nasal pillow - two "prongs" that fit against your nostrils - or shave. You can try other masks, but you have to fit them so tight that it causes discomfort... and even then, you'll have leaks.
But, as someone who uses CPAP therapy, and has a beard, I can tell you there is hope. Here are a few solutions that just might help you get some much needed, restful sleep, and still keep your pride and joy.
1. As mentioned above, you can use a Nasal Pillow. These are great, as they are small and don't cover your face. They seal against your nostrils, so your facial hair doesn't even come into the equation. They do have a drawback though. If you're a neanderthal mouth breather at night (like myself), a nasal pillow will not work for you. Once your mouth opens, the air blows right out.
2. There are ways to make a full face mask work for you, if the nasal pillows aren't an option. I use this one by ResMed. Now, by itself, it will not seal well to my beard without pulling it tight against my face. So, I found this nifty little mask liner/pad to put on it... and I'll be damned if it doesn't seal perfectly. I still have to pull it a little tighter than normal, but not to the point of discomfort.
3. Another method is to "matte" your beard and mustache down with wax. While I've seen several people say this works, I've never personally tried it.
"The Sleep Zone" has some great information on this subject as well, and offers some great support for us bearded gents who have trouble with our CPAPs.
I'm sure there are other work-arounds, but these are the most popular. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you use your CPAP. Your health and well-being are dependent on it.
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