Unless you’re a trained internet hacker then no, probably not.
In order to be provided with a sleep apnea treatment, unless you have the money to pay for private healthcare, you will need to prove to your insurance company that you need a CPAP machine, and then that you actually use it once prescribed.
Known as CPAP Compliance, it essentially calculates whether or not you’re using the CPAP by measuring how regularly the unit is being used. You might be wondering… why would someone need to monitor your sleeping habits?
Unfortunately, this is because the majority of insurers will only pay out for one if you need it for at least four hours every night, for a minimum of one month or thirty days. You need to prove you’re going to use it in order to be considered worthy of one.
Said data is usually gained through monitoring your machine: on an older device, you might have to use an SD card, whereas the contemporary CPAPs can literally connect directly to your smartphone or Wifi network to store the information.
Basically, if you want to cheat the CPAP machine into thinking you’re using it, you need to hack into the machine itself, using complicated and almost definitely illegal methods. The average user is not going to have the skills necessary to do this.
Unfortunately, that does mean that if the CPAP machine isn’t for you, the only thing to do is to try and return it and start a different course of treatment. In order to demonstrate compliance, you have to wear the mask and use the machine!
Again, messing with the device in any way could almost definitely get you in trouble with the law, and even if that’s not the case, it will certainly void any warranties you have in place. Should the CPAP break, you’ll be on your own to cover the repairs.
Hopefully we’ve convinced you that trying to cheat a CPAP is not worth your while, but if you need any more proof: this thing literally helps you to breathe as you sleep.
Trying to hack it or fix it in any way could, in extreme cases, be a fatal mistake.
Can You Cheat A Home Sleep Study?
If by that you mean successfully pretend you have sleep apnea in order to scam your insurance company into paying out, then no, you can’t. Not successfully anyway. Unfortunately, technology is far harder to trick than a human is.
In order to convince a highly efficient piece of technology - like a CPAP machine - that you have sleep apnea, you would have to not only continuously hold your breath, but somehow evidence in your blood work a lack of oxygen.
Whilst the first sounds slightly easier than the second, both are difficult and would be hard to pull off - most sleep studies are conducted by medical professionals, and if they’re not doctors, they’ll still be able to tell a fake from a mile away.
Secondly, the process requires being monitored during your entire sleep schedule, several times, so you’d have to pretend to be asleep AND hold your breath AND avoid not drifting off, all whilst lying down in bed all cozy.
Not only will you have to stay awake all night - because falling asleep means no longer being able to fake the symptoms of sleep apnea - but basically stop breathing every other minute for long enough that the body appears to be lacking oxygen.
Likewise, it’s pretty much impossible to fake snoring realistically, as well as fake obstructions to your breathing (in the nose or chest for instance) that aren’t actually there. You would have to be a medical marvel AND an Oscar-winning actor.
It’s also worth knowing that the technology being used in the majority of contemporary sleep studies, even those conducted at home, will have been manufactured with technology that can detect falsified results or ‘cheating’.
Even if you are able to mimic the symptoms of sleep apnea and keep yourself awake for eight hours, chances are the technology will be able to distinguish between your falsification and the results of a real sufferer.
As technology advances, so too does it become less and less possible to get away with things like this. Believe us - insurance companies do not want to pay for this equipment if they don’t have to, so they do everything in their power to avoid it.
Again, not only will this definitely fail, but attempting to defraud either the sleep clinic, your insurance company, or both, is only going to get you in trouble with the law.
Not to sound like a square, but abiding by the rules and doing things properly is your best bet for a successful treatment… if you’re after that and not trying to scam money!
Damon Wiseley is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist.