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Coronavirus & Sleep Apnoea

We are certainly living within surreal times. As Covid-19 continues to spread across countless geographic borders, the toll upon our society is become clear. 

The good news is that this virus will eventually run its course. However, this might not be so comforting to hear if you are suffering from any underlying health condition like Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. 

As the coronavirus is associated with several respiratory risks, it only makes sense that those who are suffering from pre-existing conditions such as obstructive sleep apnoea are concerned. 

The Dangers of Underlying Conditions 

Many who present with mild symptoms do not normally seek out any form of medical intervention. While this is good news for the general public, we need to look at those who might already be suffering from a chronic health problem -- especially hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. 

Those who are already suffering from sleep apnoea need to take this situation very seriously. Why is this the case?

Why is Sleep Such a Critical Factor?

Why is Sleep Such a Critical Factor?

We are all aware of the restorative power of sleep. Sleep helps us to repair our bodies. It heals muscles, allows us to absorb vital nutrients and provides us with a sense of mental clarity throughout the day. However, one of the most important benefits of obtaining a sound night of sleep involves the immune system. 

Were you aware that those who obtain fewer than six hours of sleep on a nightly basis were up to four times as likely to catch a common cold? 

When we then take into account how quickly this new virus spreads as well as its mortality rates, it becomes clear why sleep is so vital. 

Even if you did catch this illness, the ability to obtain a sound night’s sleep would dramatically increase your chances of making a full recovery within a short period of time. 

One of the issues associated with OSA is that you could very well believe that you are sleeping for seven or eight hours each night. However, this is of little benefit if your sleep is broken or if you are constantly awaking due to shortness of breath. 

Those who use CPAP machines will obtain a much more profound rest, allowing their bodies to produce vital virus-busting substances such as cytokines and t-cells. 


However, it would be irresponsible to claim that sleep alone will be able to stop coronavirus in its tracks. The fact of the matter is that there are numerous other practices which should now be embraced on a daily basis. 

What Steps Can You Take?

Practicality and prudence will go a long way in this day and age. The good news is that the majority of steps which can be taken are relatively straightforward (albeit slightly inconvenient). 

While many of these suggestions have been highlighted over the past few weeks throughout numerous news outlets, they are so important that each is worth mentioning again:

  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • You can also use a hand sanitising solution when appropriate.
  • Try not to touch any surfaces while out and about.
  • When possible, work from home.
  • Avoid large groups (such as those within a bus or train) whenever possible.
  • Abstain from common greetings such as handshakes and hugs.

Social distancing is one of the most important recommendations, as the ultimate goal is to stop the spread of coronavirus. This will provide the medical community with the necessary "breathing room" to accommodate those who have more serious infections. Maintain a space of at least two metres from others while out in public.

If you suspect that you may have this virus, seek the advice of a medical professional and if necessary, self-isolate for 14 days. However, it is always better to speak with a physician to determine what other steps you might have to take. 

Addressing the Condition of Your CPAP Machine

It is vital to mention that those who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea should pay careful attention to the condition of their CPAP machine. 

Do not stop using this machine due to the fear of infection. On the contrary, such an apparatus has been known to produce beneficial results in some patients. 

It is still crucial that you regularly clean accessories such as all tubes, hoses, water chambers, and masks. This can help to prevent the spread of any germs that might already be present. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Using soap and warm water, immerse the tubing and mask for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Hang the tubing vertically to ensure that all water properly drains.
  • It is best to let these accessories air dry.
  • You may also utilise solutions that have been specifically designed to disinfect CPAP machines (perhaps the best option).

Additionally, be sure to adhere to all guidelines in regards to replacing filters (these will depend upon the manufacturer).

As the expression goes, this too shall pass. However, we are living in very changeable times and those who already suffer from OSA will have to be particularly careful in order to ensure their health. 

Please feel free to print out this article to be used as a guideline. Above all, remember that taking a proactive approach is arguably the best way to avoid becoming ill during these challenging times. 

To order the Intus At-Home Sleep Test: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk/product/in-home-sleep-test/

To shop for the highest-quality selection of CPAP devices: https://www.cpap.co.uk/shop.html

Author: Helen Clarkson

About author: Helen Clarkson is a Sleep Specialist at Baywater Healthcare. Ms. Clarkson has worked with Baywater since 2008, working closely with patients in delivering sleep/bi-level services including sleep and respiratory, both in the home and clinic setting. This includes therapy initiation and troubleshooting support. Ms. Clarkson is responsible for delivering the Baywater Healthcare patient adherence management programme to ensure continuing patient therapy compliance. works in conjunction with NHS clinicians and procurement to deliver excellence in home and clinic-based services. She provides training on all aspects of sleep including devices and interfaces. Previously, Ms. Clarkson served as Respiratory Physiologist at Pontefract General Infirmary. Her position was Senior MTO for lung function/sleep department, and she was responsible for performing simple and complex sleep studies, sleep study analysis, CPAP initiation, therapy adherence and troubleshooting/service clinics, spirometry, lung volumes and transfer factor, reversibility, CPET, hyperventilation testing, EIA testing, skin prick testing, 6 min walk tests. She has also held roles as Respiratory Physiologist and Respiratory Technician, working closely with patients with respiratory disorders -- including ex-miners. Ms. Clarkson has a BSc (Honors) in Applied biology from University of Staffordshire. She also studied Developments in Sleep Medicine (advanced course) at St. Thomas’ Hospital, and took the Edinburgh Sleep Medicine course. She completed the BSS: Advanced sleep course and the ARTP NIV Course.

4 thoughts on “Coronavirus & Sleep Apnoea”

  • Mr maco

    Need to know more about CPAP

    • Giny Humbles

      Hello Marco,

      Thank you for your interest in our equipment. In order to buy a CPAP machine, as it is a medical equipment, you need a diagnosis of sleep apnoea to make sure that the CPAP machine is suitable for you.
      Please provide us with your email address and we can send you some further information about CPAP machines and masks.


  • Rita Sanderson
    Rita Sanderson April 12, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    My cpap machine is 8 years old and I was told at my last clinic appt that it is nearing the end of it’s life . I fear that with what is happening in the NHS now myth at I may not be able to get a replacement and I honestly believe this machine has kept me alive as I haves srogrens syndrome which makes all my airways and throat etc very dry and I have previously had a number of sinus operations that have (according to the nose and throat specialist I saw before I had the machine) removed half of the inside of my nose., leaving me coughing and choking at night unable to lie down and sleep or waking up choking like I was drowning in my own mucous. The machine gave a bearable life and I NEVER go to sleep without it. If I accidentally doze off I wake up choking and coughing . Obviously I need a machine with a humidifier. This is absolutely essential. As a trained nurse I have a fairly good medical understanding. I would like to buy a new machine as I cam very worried that I wil be left without this support if it comes to a sudden stop. My current machine is no longer available so I need to know what model it should be replaced with and how much that is likely to cost including a humidifier for it as well as a cable and tube.

    • Kelly

      Hi Rita,

      Thank you for your post.

      In order to help you find the right machine, we would need to know what CPAP machine you are currently using, and whether it is a fixed pressure or automatic machine. Also which mask are you using? I can see your email address on your post, so I will drop you an email with some information on what machine and masks to look at.


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