Tips to improving CPAP comfort

It may take some time for you to become comfortable using CPAP therapy. Follow these tips to improve your quality of sleep with CPAP:

Begin using your CPAP for short periods of time during the day while you watch TV or read.

This will help you get used to wearing your mask. It will feel more natural when you are trying to fall asleep.

Make CPAP part of your bedtime routine.

Use CPAP every night and for every nap. Using CPAP less often reduces its health benefits and makes it more difficult for your body to adjust to the therapy.

Make small adjustments to increase your level of comfort.

Adjust your mask straps and headgear until you get the fit right. You also can try using a special bed pillow that is shaped for a CPAP mask and tubing.

Make sure your mask is a good fit. The most common problems with CPAP occur when the mask does not fit properly.

If the mask is too big, the straps holding it to your face will need to be pulled tightly. This may irritate your skin or lead to sores as the straps rub against your face. You also can buy soft CPAP strap covers to reduce the rubbing of the straps against your skin. A mask that is too small will not seal properly and air will leak out through the edges. The air may blow into your eyes. If you are having either problem, you may need a different mask or headgear.

If the pressure feels too high as you are trying to fall asleep, use the “ramp” mode on your CPAP unit.

The ramp mode will start your device on a low pressure setting and gradually increase the pressure over time. You should be able to fall asleep before the air pressure reaches its proper level.

Use a saline nasal spray to ease mild nasal congestion.

Nasal congestion can be a problem with CPAP treatment. A nasal spray or decongestant can help with nasal or sinus congestion.

Use a humidifier if you have a dry mouth, throat or nose.

Many CPAP devices have a heated humidifier. It ensures that you are breathing warm, moist air through your mask.

Schedule a regular time to clean your equipment.

Clean your mask, tubing and headgear once a week. Put this time in your schedule so that you don’t forget to do it.

If you are having problems remembering to use your CPAP every night, find someone to help.

Consider joining a support group or asking someone you trust to hold you accountable for using your CPAP.

If these adjustments do not work, talk to the staff at your sleep center.

The staff at your local sleep center are prepared to help you adjust to CPAP therapy. You may need a different type of CPAP mask or machine, or you may need an adjustment to your air pressure setting. Some people also benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT can help you identify and overcome fears or concerns that may be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep with CPAP.