Sleep Apnea is a common nighttime sleeping disorder that affects more than a million people across the globe. It affects men and women of all ages. There are even cases of some children suffering from Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a disorder in which pauses in breathing occur during sleep. These pauses are followed by loud snoring, snorting or choking when the breathing resumes. People suffering from Sleep Apnea may have lethargic days and excessive daytime sleepiness. They may feel tired and can have hearing and vision problems. Usually, males run a greater risk of suffering from Sleep Apnea as compared to females. However, it is a curable problem that can be countered.
Our next sleep expert is Bleep Sleep.
Bleep Sleep provides a CPAP solution that helps in countering Sleep Apnea. Their mission is to provide those who are suffering from Sleep Apnea with an easy to use, “non-mask” solution to help them get the sleep that they need.
1. Let’s rewind back to the beginning – why did you start Bleep Sleep? Also, what’s the mystery behind the peculiar name, “bleep sleep”? 🙂
I’ve been a Sleep Tech since 1995 and a CPAP user starting two years after that. So heavily involved in the sleep field, owned sleep labs, called on doctors for referrals, setup patients on therapy, as well as having tried on about everything known to man. I have a very good grasp of the pain points of therapy and masks from seeing it in the clinical setting and educating end-users on benefits and tricks to adjusting to PAP. Having a lot of the issues myself from the nasal pillow masks I used, along with chafing in the nose, fragmented sleep, and strap marks that lasted 3-4 hours after getting up, I guess, subconsciously, that led to me having a dream one night at a CE conference around a 10 years ago when came up with the concept. That was a Friday night, I think, and woke my wife up telling her about it and then I pencilled it out on a napkin. Two days later, on a Sunday night, I slept with a proof of concept that worked all night at a pressure of 10. Hired a patent attorney Monday and filed a provisional patent. The name of the company was inspired by riffing late one night and a bunch of notes that kept referencing to “We give a Bleep about Sleep” as a tagline. Bleep was one syllable, it rhymes with sleep, it was snarky. The marketing guy we were working with suggested it be the name of the company because it was memorable and would give us a chance to set ourselves apart from the super-serious nature of the big three. So Bleep is the name of the company and DreamPort is the name of our product.
2. Your focus area is sleep apnea, which generally requires professional medical help. How do you think we can prevent sleep apnea (especially in initial stages)?
Earlier diagnosis for sure. HST or home sleep testing can really help with this, in my opinion. There’s certainly been a shift towards it in the past 5 years or more. Understanding sleep apnea and the impact it has on the body has caused more awareness among providers and they are much quicker to pick up on symptoms and recommend testing. HST will help expedite a diagnosis from the patient’s home in mere days and remove more of the stigma of wires and being watched by patients unnerved by the clinical setting.
Additionally, fitting of products is extremely important now, particularly in the world of COVID. If the patient isn’t fit properly, they are set up for failure right out of the gate with leaks, sore noses, or poor selection of products to begin therapy on. So better systems of accommodating new end-user needs are important. That really starts with clinicians and HMEs getting better at their job and not focusing so often on margins, but being more patient-centric. There’s nothing more annoying than hearing a patient is started on a full face mask without anything to base that decision on other than asking the patient if they are a mouth breather.
The obvious answer is that the majority are mouth breathers without PAP therapy because almost all apnea patients snore or their mouth drops open to breathe better. That does not mean they need a full face mask. This applies to both sleep techs and the clinical RTs setting up patients. Yet, there are so many clinical studies that point to patients never being started on full face. Not that there aren’t needs for them, it just shouldn’t be the first thing pulled off the shelf.
3. You’ve come up with “DreamPort” which is a smart alternative to CPAP masks. What are the core USPs that you would want your customers to understand?
The DreamPort is unique in that it is a one-size-fits-all replacement for all nasal masks and all nasal pillow masks. Nothing goes inside the nose like a nasal pillow mask, a common misperception among end-users, techs, and RTs seeing it for the first time. Because it wraps the underside of each nostril with its own adhesive strip, it conforms to fit you and allows for more laminar flow, which makes it easier to inhale on and exhale on without the jetting sensation of a nasal pillow. Obviously, it has no headgear like a nasal mask, so the end-user has no marks on their face, ripples in the hair, bald spots, or slippage of straps that lead to leaks and fragmented sleep. You have to clean your nose with an astringent to get the oil off the skin and out of the pores at night before applying the DreamPorts, otherwise, you’re asking for leaks to occur.
So if you don’t like washing your face and spending a minute to prep your skin for a leak-free night of PAP therapy, you should consider something else. That said, DreamPort fixes the top 22-pain points in the industry and many patients that make the switch to us have gone through countless masks and have multiple problems, which we fix in one solution.
4. Generally, people are worried about experimenting with new and effective products. For a product like DreamPort, how do you assure your customers that it’s safe and risk-free?
You really can’t. Nothing is 100% assured to any of us and no one mask is the right solution for us all. We each have different needs, different shapes and want a particular feel for therapy. That’s why patients go through 3-4 masks before they find one they can live with on average. Some patients go through far more. You achieve that from trial and error.
That said, Bleep offers a guarantee to the middleman/seller/HME to replace the DreamPort if a patient doesn’t like it. Generally, all of the online sellers allow for a 14-day guarantee to the patient. So not much to lose there. The adhesive has been around for over a decade and is hypoallergenic surgical foam…really good stuff. Most end-users end-users that swore they had tape allergies and converted to the DreamPort, had no sensitivity problems at all using it. That doesn’t mean it will be the case for everyone, which is why we offer cut samples of the tape for curious patients to experiment with on their arm, neck, or face and see if they like the feel of it or causes a reaction.
5. Other than DreamPort, what else do you think you need to come up with to help those who are suffering from sleep apnea?
A better PAP blower, which we are working on, and a full face mask design that’s one-size-fits-all. We have some unique out-of-the-box approaches to therapy that we feel hit home on many fronts, fixing groups of issues all at once. Bleep plans to get those to market and address better compliance through our technology.
6. When people approach you for sleep apnea and related issues, what is the average age group? Is it common in young adults as well?
I take hundreds of phone calls a month from patients and I would say the average age of the end-user I speak to is over 30 on up to Medicare age. That doesn’t mean anything really other than people are calling because they have issues with their mask and they want a solution. It’s really hard to tell though, because I’m not asking how old they are, but basing an answer for this question entirely from assuming the age of a voice strictly by listening to them.
I think it’s far more common in kids and teens, on through college, than anyone thinks because it’s so anatomically based: the size of their airway, tongue, tonsils, adenoids, etc. Then throw on some caffeine and medications to hype up your sleep and you have terrible sleep caused by many problems. Adding to that, people are more overweight now at a younger age and that’s like throwing gas on the fire of the hereditary issues you’re born with. Additionally, you don’t just put on 50 lbs in a year in most cases, it’s a slow build-up and before you know it, your sleep is a wreck because of apnea or UAR. More kids are getting diagnosed for sure. You see dentists correcting some of these issues with braces, expanding the airway, restructuring jawlines…all in an effort to stop the problem the child was born with so they breathe better at night. That said, ADHD is up and a lot of kids get misdiagnosed and placed on meds that ruin their sleep with something that’s really a sleep problem from the beginning.
Caffeine is really a problem too among young consumers. I’m appalled by how many elementary-age kids I see in a restaurant getting multiple caffeinated sodas at dinner time, knowing the half-life of caffeine will never get out of their system by morning. Their sleep will be a wreck in most cases and they don’t know it and the parent has no clue.
7. Other than Sleep Apnea, what else do you think are some of the biggest issues that make it difficult for people to sleep better?
Social media, phones, video games, staying glued to devices, and having a lack of exercise and or control in your life are all detrimental to sleep, in my opinion. Particularly in our kids’ lives. Having a regulated bedtime, particularly for children and teens, is imperative to a healthy life, and that extends to adults. Too many times, we burn the candle at both ends and it always catches up. When you go for your annual physical, you should always take time to discuss your sleep or your child’s sleep, how well you or they are doing with it, if snoring has been noted or you’ve been told you snore, how rested do you or they feel, etc. It affects everything in your body, how well you maintain weight, function, and the mind. Don’t ignore the signs.
That was a highly informative pillow talk with Bleep Sleep. Their Instagram page and website offers a number of solutions and resources if someone is suffering from Sleep Apnea, so do check those out.
And like Stuart said, always look for the signs and don’t ignore them to ensure a good night’s sleep!
Featured Photo from bleepsleep.com
Written by Abhinav Goel
This post is by Abhinav Goel. A law student, he loves to read, write, and watch movies. He believes that a good book and a movie can be the perfect antidote to all of your worries. You can connect with him on Instagram to know more ways of escapism.