President Joe Biden uses a CPAP machine. Should you?

President Joe Biden uses a CPAP machine. Should you?

Being the leader of the free world probably doesn’t lend itself to quality sleep even on the best days. But in an effort to improve his sleep quality, President Joe Biden reportedly joined millions of other Americans in using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to treat his sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts – sometimes more than 30 times per hour in the most severe cases – while asleep. Roughly 30 million Americans live with sleep apnea, yet only 6 million have been diagnosed with the condition.

“These repeated interruptions during sleep can significantly harm sleep quality and cause a person to feel groggy even after a full night’s sleep,” says Dr. Ashby Jordan, a pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “Fortunately for people with sleep apnea, a CPAP machine is a safe and effective treatment that can help sleep apnea sufferers feel more focused, rested and energetic.”

A CPAP machine is connected to a hose that attaches to a mask that is worn over the nose and mouth. The machine works by gently pushing pressurized air into a person’s airway to keep it from closing.

“CPAP therapy has become quite common in the U.S., with many sleep medicine professionals viewing it as a gold-standard sleep apnea treatment,” Dr. Jordan says. “Some insurance companies may even require a trial of a CPAP machine before covering more invasive treatments.”

For some who are already familiar with sleep apnea, the condition may bring to mind the large, loud CPAP machines of years past. But CPAP manufacturers have made significant advancements to the devices in recent years – with travel sizes and cases, a variety of mask types, features that automatically adjust air pressure, and humidifiers to alleviate dry nose and mouth – all of which have made CPAP therapy more tolerable for many.

Still, a CPAP machine may not be appropriate for everyone with sleep apnea, so it is always wise to start by consulting your doctor if you suspect you have a sleep disorder.

Having trouble sleeping? To learn more about sleep apnea and your risk, take a free online assessment here.

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About the Author

Nick Bullock
Nick Bullock

Nick Bullock, health enews contributor, is a scientific writer and editor for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. He is a former newspaper reporter and magazine editor with a background in science and research reporting. When he’s not writing about the latest health care research, Nick is usually hiking through Wisconsin state parks, reading sci-fi novels or historical nonfiction, trying new recipes, agonizing over Minnesota sports franchises and playing games with his family.