If you’re in the beginning stages of CPAP therapy, you may be wondering how people go through this every single night. We know how hard it can be: adjusting to wearing a facemask can be tough, the dangling tubes are unsettling, and the inflow of air can make it tough to fall asleep at first. Once a person adjusts to CPAP therapy, most of these problems will dissipate. The trick is getting to a point where the equipment is no longer a distraction.
At RespShop, we’re experienced in helping patients adjust to CPAP, and we have a few ideas on how you too can become compliant with your therapy. Read on for a couple of tips on how to make your therapy more comfortable, relaxing, and easier to stick with over the long haul.
Find a lightweight and comfortable mask
If you get your initial sleep study done in a typical laboratory, odds are that the diagnostics team evaluating your study set you up with a CPAP mask at some point in the night. If so, you probably were given an old CPAP mask bereft of the comfort features top of the line masks offer. Many of the older masks have uncomfortable cushions and require you to fasten them to your face to keep a seal: these masks can cause painful abrasions and can leave red spots all over your face. If you need a CPAP mask, be sure to avoid masks like these.
Instead, try to find a lightweight mask with an inflatable seal. This type of seal won’t make imprints on your face and you won’t need to overly tighten it. There are a number of great masks in the CPAP universe, and we often recommend that new patients try a mask from the AirFit Series
or the Mirage line
Use a nasal mask
There are three different types of CPAP mask: nasal masks, nasal pillow masks, and full face masks. Most patients will do best with the nasal model. The bottom part of the nasal mask cushion rests gently against the skin between your mouth and nose, and the rest covers your nasal bridge. This design offers patients a quality seal without covering too much of the face.
Full face masks, on the other hand, cover more of your face and are secured to the jaw, which is less stable. The reduced stability can cause leaks, disrupting therapy. Patients who are unwilling to shave facial hair or users who struggle to breathe through their nose – all people with sleep apnea are mouth-breathers prior to treatment, but most close their mouth once on CPAP – may do well with a full face. Still, we’d recommend patients try a nasal mask first.
Similarly, nasal pillow masks aren’t for everybody either. Many new users find the simplistic design and lack of facial contact appealing, but we’ve found that they have lower rates of compliance than nasal masks. Relative to the nasal mask, the nasal pillows are easy to dislodge as you toss and turn, and many new patients dislike the intensity of the air pressure inherent in the design. The bottom line is that nasal masks have a higher rate of compliance: if you want to give a CPAP a real shot and really get rid of your sleep apnea symptoms, we recommend using a nasal mask first, and then adjusting later if it doesn’t work to your liking.