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Sleeping With an Oxygen Concentrator- Doing It Right

While experiencing a natural drop in oxygen levels during sleep is normal, an excessively low drop can increase the likelihood of sleep disturbances and pose potential health risks. Identifying the signs of low oxygen is hence crucial. If you also experience reduced oxygen levels, the use of oxygen concentrators can provide added oxygen support and help promote a healthful night’s rest. In this article, we have addressed the pertinent aspects of sleeping with an oxygen concentrator. 

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Before we delve into the specifics of sleeping with an oxygen concentrator, it is important to understand why individuals may require oxygen therapy during sleep. Conditions such as sleep apnea, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and other respiratory disorders can cause reduced oxygen levels during the night. Other medical conditions, such as heart disease or obesity, can also result in individuals not getting enough oxygen when sleeping. 

A low oxygen level can lead to further complications and also cause any new health issue like insomnia, elevated blood pressure, diabetes type 2 and even brain damage as brain function may be compromised due to low oxygen. In some instances, it may result in sudden loss of consciousness or even death.

Using an oxygen concentrator helps enable a continuous and regulated supply of oxygen, promoting better sleep quality, reducing health risks, and supporting overall health.

How Do I Know I Am Not Getting Enough Oxygen at Night

Normally, the standard range for oxygen levels during sleep is between 90% and 100%. Should oxygen saturation levels drop below 88%, potential risks may arise. Signs of insufficient oxygen include

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure
  • Morning headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Quickened breathing
  • Gasping for air upon waking
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Bluish tint observed on lips, nail beds, or earlobes
  • Snoring loudly

How to set up your sleeping environment when using an oxygen concentrator

Positioning the oxygen concentrator

Place the concentrator within reach of the bed, ensuring the tubing allows for comfortable movement during sleep. Avoid placing the concentrator on the bed to prevent potential blockages or disturbances.

Arranging tubing

Arrange the oxygen tubing in a way that minimizes tangling and allows for freedom of movement. Consider using tubing clips or holders to secure the tubing in a position that doesn’t impede sleep.

Adjusting bed position

Raise the head of the bed slightly if advised by your healthcare provider to promote better breathing. Also, ensure the concentrator is positioned to allow for easy access without disrupting your sleep.

Safety Considerations for Using Oxygen Concentrator

  • Secure any loose tubing to avoid tripping hazards during your nighttime bathroom visits.
  • You may use cord organizers or tape to keep the tubing in place and reduce the risk of falls.
  • Avoid smoking in the bedroom or near the concentrator, as oxygen can trigger combustion.
  • Ensure a smoke-free environment to minimize fire risks associated with oxygen use and keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • Keep the oxygen tank upright and regularly check the concentrator’s display to make sure it is delivering the prescribed oxygen levels.
  • Be attentive to any alarms or notifications that may indicate any issues with the device.

Some Tips for a Comfortable Night’s Sleep when using an Oxygen Concentrator

Here are some tips that will help you sleep comfortably at night 

  • Use soft, breathable bedding for your overall comfort during sleep.
  • Adjust room temperature to create an ideal sleeping environment.
  • Choose an oxygen concentrator that has quiet operation to minimize disturbances during sleep.
  • Place the concentrator away from the head of the bed to reduce noise impact.
  • If your concentrator has a built-in humidifier, use it to prevent dryness in the nasal passages. Ensure that its humidifier is filled appropriately and cleaned regularly as well.

Besides using an oxygen concentrator, you can also make a few lifestyle adjustments to improve the quality of sleep. For instance

  • Avoiding carbonated drinks in the evening to lower the diaphragm pressure, facilitating easier breathing.
  • Setting a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed at roughly the same time to regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
  • Doing daily exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes to promote overall well-being! Also, practice huffing, i.e., forceful exhalation before sleeping.

Addressing common issues when using Oxygen Concentrators at Night

While the oxygen concentrator will help revive your oxygen level at night, it also presents a few challenges. Here are a few tips to increase comfort

Nasal Passage Dryness

One common issue associated with using an oxygen concentrator during sleep is nasal dryness. To address this, stay well-hydrated throughout the day to reduce the effect of dry air on your nasal passages. You can also use a saline nasal spray before bedtime to reduce dryness. You can also adjust the humidifier according to your comfort level to add moisture to the air. Experiment with different humidity settings to find the balance that works best for you.

Mask or Cannula discomfort

Ensure that your nasal cannula or oxygen mask fits comfortably to prevent irritation during sleep. You may want to experiment with different mask styles or sizes to find the most comfortable option.

Troubleshooting concentrator alarms

Familiarize yourself with the concentrator’s user manual to troubleshoot any alarms or issues so that you get uninterrupted sleep and proper oxygen delivery.

Using a portable oxygen concentrator for traveling

If you need to travel or may need oxygen therapy outside your home, portable oxygen concentrators offer quite a lot of flexibility. It is important that you check your airline regulations regarding carrying and using oxygen concentrators during flights. You may also need to inform the airline in advance of your oxygen needs and follow their guidelines. At the same time, it is pertinent to choose a portable concentrator with sufficient battery life for the duration of your travel. Also, remember to carry extra batteries and necessary accessories for a seamless travel experience.

Final Thoughts

When done right and with proper preparation, sleeping with an oxygen concentrator can have a positive and transformative impact. However, do remember to consult with your healthcare provider for the correct diagnosis of your condition, get specific advice, and make adjustments to your sleeping environment as required. 

A Guide to Using and Caring for an Oxygen Concentrator

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