Seeing is Believing: Study Shows a Higher Use of CPAP in Patients Who See Their Sleep Apnea

By Reyna Gobel

new study reveals that patients who see a videotape of their sleep apnea may lead them to use their CPAP machines more.

The question everyone wants to know is, What makes videotaping in a sleep lab different and better than videotaping one’s spouse at home?

According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Mark Aloia, Senior Director of Global Clinical Research for Philips Respironics and associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health, it wasn’t just the visual that encouraged patients to use their CPAP machines more. The videos were edited down to a few minutes and were one element in a 30-minute educational session that also included physiological data from the patients’ CPAP machines. The information combined was more powerful in showing patients they actually gasped for air in an apnic episode.

Having your spouse videotape your sleep poses its own issues: Besides the fact you must consent to being videotaped, a recording made at home lacks context. A sleep behavior specialist or nurse knows more about the physiology and psychology of what’s happening during an apnic episode than your spouse would. Plus, a medical specialist can discuss with you the different ways that using your CPAP machine longer can help you not only sleep better, but the long-term positive effects of using a CPAP machine, such as reduced risk of heart disease.

The study consisted of 24 sleep apnea patients: 12 people who were shown a video of someone else’s sleep apnea and 12 individuals who were shown a video of their own sleep apnea. The 12 individuals who viewed themselves used the CPAP machine for two more hours per night three months after watching the video.

The study’s findings were interesting enough that Dr. Aloia plans to conduct a larger study of 300 sleep apnea patients.