image of couple sleeping

Sleep apnea, affecting as many as one-third of all adult men and 20 percent of women (an estimated 12 million Americans), is a potentially fatal condition which literally means “no breath” or “stopping breathing.” It is associated with a host of negative health outcomes including myocardial infarctions, stroke, diabetes and motor vehicle accidents.

CPAP therapy is standard of care for patients with sleep apnea but has a poor reputation. The CPAP machine is thought sounding like a tractor and the CPAP mask thought of as Darth Vader snorkeling.

To create awareness of sleep apnea and challenge common perceptions about CPAP therapy sleep specialist Dr. Daniel Erichsen, medical director at The Center for Sleep Medicine at SBH Health System (St. Barnabas Hospital) in the Bronx, has asked the department heads of Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery and Psychiatry to sleep one night each with CPAP therapy.

Drs. Telzak (medicine), Rubin (pediatrics), Shabsigh (surgery) and Troneci (psychiatry) accepted the CPAP challenge which will take place the first four nights of national sleep awareness week starting March 2. These doctors will share their experience including how trying CPAP therapy will affect their likelihood of prescribing this therapy.

“I hope to show that modern sleek CPAP devices and minimal masks are easier to use then the ones we had just 3-4 years ago,” said Dr. Erichsen. “It will be interesting to compare the numbers of hours the department heads estimate using CPAP therapy with what the device itself records”