9 Tips for Getting Used to CPAP Machines
CPAP machines (literally) give people with sleep apnea the chance to breathe a sigh of relief.
As you probably know, CPAP machines are the first thing doctors bring up after you are diagnosed with sleep apnea. The CPAP option is a non-invasive treatment that uses a simple machine to blow a stream of air into the back of the throat. This current of air nudges any obstructions causing apneas out of the way.
CPAP machines are used by millions of people around the world. They are the first line of defense against sleep apnea, which can — in rare circumstances — be a fatal condition, or lead to severe impairment due to sleep deprivation.
Despite their importance, ubiquity, and usefulness, they can be a little uncomfortable if you are experimenting with one for the first time. Getting used to CPAP machines can take some trial and error.
This article will illustrate some of the most common complaints and tell you what steps you should take to begin to get used to your CPAP machine.
What Do People Say About CPAP Machine Discomfort?
The following is kind of like an FAQ list, but instead of questions, they are CPAP machine complaints we have compiled from far and wide. At the end of the night, every case is different, but for those who truly need a CPAP machine, there is simply no better way for you to recover your concentration, mood, energy, and overall health.
Photo Credit: Philips Respironics Pico Nasal CPAP Mask
The best thing you can do is to be aware that there will probably be discomfort for a short time while you get used to it and take measures to minimize this discomfort.
These are the problems that this article will address. Read on to learn how to get a good night's sleep.
- The pressure CPAP machines use pushes against your natural breath and can feel overwhelming.
- The mask makes me feel claustrophobic.
- The machine is too noisy.
- The mask is too drafty for me and my partner.
- The mask doesn't let me move around at night.
9 Tips for Getting Used to CPAP Machines
If you or your doctor believe CPAP is the best way forward, it is important to commit to your goal of restful sleep. This means you need to go to bed for the first few weeks of using a CPAP machine with a winner mindset. The best suggestion the internet has to offer about beginning to use CPAP machines is to take your new routine in stride. Be positive.
If you do not do this, every minor setback will become evidence to justify your eventual rejection of the treatment.
Don't worry, here are 9 ways you can make this change to your routine easier.
1. Try It Before Bed
The breathing pattern you must have with a CPAP mask on is different from what you are probably used to. When wearing a CPAP mask, you should keep your mouth closed and exhale a bit harder than usual. Mastering this new pattern is the main challenge new CPAP users must accept.
We recommend going to bed an hour early during your first week with the device and watching TV or listening to something to get used to this new pattern. Watching or listening to something will distract you and let your body adjust automatically.
2. Use a Quiet CPAP Machine
CPAP machines were invented in the 80s. In the decades that followed, they acquired a bit of a reputation for being noisy. This reputation, however, does not really stand up to scrutiny today. They are plenty of examples of CPAP machines that have solved this problem. The Dreamstation series, for example, registers about 26 decibels. That is quieter than the average whisper.
It makes sense that the medical community would come up with a solution to such an obvious and widespread problem using today's miraculous technology.
3. Use a Mask with a Diffuser
Often, CPAP users will focus too much on which machine is right for them and too little on what mask feels best. That is a big mistake. Remember the FAQ of complaints above? Most of the problems people complain about can be resolved with the appropriate mask. There is a lot of variation in this.
Masks with diffusers are best for folks who want the quietest possible experience. For example, the F&P Eson™ 2 Nasal Mask has won awards for being one of the quietest masks on the market.
4. Get Fitted Before Buying a Mask
People come in different sizes. A good CPAP mask must suit your face. This can be a bit tricky to find since stores rarely allow you to try the mask on before purchase. However, buying the right mask is probably the single most important thing you can do for the comfort of your nightly routine. At Sleeplay, we offer a 30-day trial on CPAP masks so that you can find the right fit for you without any hassle.
Another option is for you to ask your doctor to fit you with a few different options before you leave their office. The tip below lists the options you have for mask type.
5. Use a Nasal Pillow Rather Than a Full Face Mask
Generally, people prefer smaller masks to larger ones. These are the three types of CPAP masks from largest to smallest:
This mask covers your mouth and nose. It is the most effective kind of mask but can be uncomfortable, depending on your nighttime movement and susceptibility to discomfort while sleeping. There is also a higher potential for air leakage.
This type of mask allows for the most mobility. It is recommended for side sleepers, and only covers the nose but is different from a nasal pillow in that it actually covers a part of your face. On the other hand, it may not work as well with congestion.
This is the preferred option for CPAP users with facial hair. It is the smallest kind of mask and leaves the mouth uncovered. The air pressure coming in only from the nose can lead to dryness.
6. Use a Mask That Allows for Max Mobility
As you can see, the CPAP mask itself is one of the most important factors in your nightly routine. Doctors will usually make recommendations based on your sleep test, but for preparation and peace of mind, you should know a little about the topic as well.
We recommend Philips Respironics DreamWear CPAP Masks for maximum mobility. These masks use an innovative design to allow the sleeper to turn all he/she wants throughout the night.
7. Use a CPAP Cleaning System
It is very important to maintain your CPAP device. This can be time-consuming and annoying, but doctors say that if you do not use a CPAP cleaning system or clean your CPAP weekly, your machine is likely to develop mold and bacteria.
Because of the humidity inside of the CPAP device, it is liable to get dirty very often. This is obviously a problem for anybody inhaling air that comes through the device. Your sleep doctor may recommend that you wash your mask, hose, and humidification tank about once a week on the inside and about once every two weeks on the outside. We recommend using the Sleep8 Cleaning Companion System to thoroughly clean your supplies in a convenient and simple way.
8. Take a Break Every Few Weeks
No, you do not need to use the CPAP machine every single day without fail. For the sake of getting used to the treatment, you should not take any breaks for the first month, but after this, it is totally OK to go a night or two without the device.
The reason why it is OK to take a break from CPAP is that sleep apnea and snoring cause swelling in your throat, making a bad problem worse. Therefore, if you have been using the device for weeks, your throat should be in better shape than it would be if you were just starting treatment.
9. Consider Your Facial Hair
Do you have facial hair? Don't feel like giving it up?
This could mean you need to look a little harder when you buy CPAP equipment. Masks are not one-size-fits-all, and it is possible to find masks made especially for folks with beards that simply will not work for you. Daniel D. Lane, RPSGT, CCSH, president of the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) recommends starting from the smallest mask size and working your way up until you find something comfortable.
No need to sort through countless listings of CPAP supplies that won’t work for beards - check out our selection of beard-friendly CPAP equipment at Sleeplay.
To many folks, a CPAP device is necessary for a normal life. The right CPAP mask will refresh your everyday routine. It will rejuvenate you and infuse your mornings with energy, clarity, and wellbeing. However, it is easy to make mistakes when you are starting out.
We suggest that before buying your kit, you do your homework. You will want to look into the following questions.
How much do I care about noise?
Do I twist and turn at night?
Am I prone to claustrophobia?
Do I mind cleaning my kit every week?
Whether you twist and turn in your sleep or not, turn to us for help with your treatment. Get started by exploring our curated selection of top-rated CPAP machines and supplies.
Written by Aaron Fuhrman