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Still, less than half of those sent home with a CPAP wind up using it, experts said. The machine works by blowing a stream of air down a plastic tube and through a plastic mask, using the pressure to keep airways open.
Compared to the possibility of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, looking less sexy at bedtime is a minor concern, said Barbara Ruggiero, who coordinates the southern Nevada chapter of the AWAKE support group run by the American Sleep Apnea Association.“We hear that a big challenge is having somebody that’s coming to bed with all these accoutrements as opposed to just their jammies.” Like sleeping with Darth Vader And the challenge is growing with the number of sleep apnea sufferers.An estimated 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60 in the United States suffer from severe sleep apnea, Grandi said.That’s at least 18 million Americans who shuffle through life in a sleep-deprived haze.Only about 10 percent of sufferers are diagnosed, but the most common prescription is a CPAP.“I am having a hard time seeing an educated, attractive man looking for an over-weight single mother (2 year old girl) who also has the joy of wearing a full face mask to bed,” one 27-year-old woman wrote.
“It’s a very big thing,” acknowledges Edward Grandi, executive director of the sleep apnea association that counts 10,000 registered members in its ranks.
“My husband and I were snugglers all night long,” said Ann Hurd, 66.
“But he doesn’t like the cold air blowing on him.” And there’s no question it’s hard to feel seductive while wearing the thing.
Babbett Peterson thought there was nothing less sexy than her husband’s snoring — until he brought home the cure.
The 47-year-old Trabuco Canyon, Calif., woman took one look at the plastic face mask, the long tubing and the whirring motor that ran all night and decided there were worse things than a few snuffles and snorts.
As far as she was concerned, the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine — known as a CPAP — was a threat to her 22-year marriage. “Then there was this thing strapped to his head.” Peterson and her husband, Chris, a 47-year-old engineer, are among growing numbers of couples whose romantic lives have been derailed by sleep problems — or their solutions.