How Two Twentysomethings With Sleep Apnea Found Better Health Via Accessibility In Their CPAPs


“When I got the CPAP machine, it just completely changed my life,” she said to me in a recent interview via videoconference. “After a month, I felt a huge difference.”

Prior to using the CPAP prescribed by her doctor, Matina spent two years wearing an oral retainer, which she described as “pushing my jaw forward” so as to increase her airway.

“I was falling asleep during the day after work—I’d check out at 12pm,” Matina said of her experiences before getting the CPAP. “I’d be up for two hours and I was just so exhausted. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t go to the gym or do my hobbies and do things I love doing because I was so tired and sleepy. It affected my mood.”

The CPAP is an indispensable piece of assistive technology for both Matina and Bales; as Bales correctly noted, sleep apnea is “dangerous” and potentially life-threatening. This is because the heart has to work harder to send messages to your brain that a person isn’t breathing, even momentarily. There is no cure for sleep apnea, so the use of a CPAP is a must for the rest of Matina and Bales’ respective lives. In Bales’ view, his focus going forward is “more about learning how to live with it comfortably than it is kicking sleep apnea.” Matina feels similarly, telling me that friends of hers have become “super supportive” in ensuring she puts on that CPAP as she’s supposed to when going to bed at night.

Matina added that the presence of a humidifier in her bedroom helps her sleep more comfortably too. Ultimately, she wants to raise awareness of sleep apnea—to Bales’ point, that it isn’t limited to older adult men—and to encourage people to wear their CPAP religiously. She hopes others will “reach out” if they need help.

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