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Five Tips To Help You Adjust To a CPAP Machine

Let's face it -- as convenient and helpful as CPAP machines are for anyone suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, these devices aren't the easiest things to get used to if you're using one for the first time. In fact, data shows that about 80% of all CPAP machine users don't use their CPAP masks often enough to help them sleep better consistently, and about 50% of all people prescribed CPAP machines for obstructive sleep apnea stop using the machines after one to three weeks of starting treatment -- so if you're getting frustrated with your machine and you feel like you're getting better sleep without wearing it, you aren't alone.

The important thing to remember is that, as uncomfortable as the mask might feel at first, it's actually going to help your sleep cycles and overall health in the long run -- it's also important to remember that the initial discomfort and anxiety of using a CPAP machine will go away shortly if you're persistent! With all of this in mind, here are a few tips to help you adjust to your new CPAP machine:

  • Because nasal CPAP masks provide a constant stream of air through your nasal breathing passages, you may find that you're experiencing a dry or chapped nose. The easiest solutions here may be to invest in a good humidifier, or to see your doctor about a moisturizing nasal spray.
  • People also often encounter dry mouths when using traditional nasal CPAP masks, especially if they naturally breathe with their mouth open. If you're having this problem, again, a humidifier will probably provide some immediate relief; looking into a full face CPAP mask that covers both your nose and your mouth is another option.
  • The actual technology behind CPAP machines hasn't changed much since they were first put on the market, but newer machines tend to be quieter and less cumbersome than older machines. If you find that the noise is too disruptive (and earplugs and/or white noise machines aren't working), try looking into newer CPAP machines.
  • Feeling comfortable with your CPAP machine may seem difficult at first, so try wearing the mask while you're at home during the day to let your body get used to the feel of it (and to determine if it isn't fitting properly). Once you train your body to feel comfortable wearing the mask, you'll be able to relax easier at night.
  • Most importantly, don't give up on your machine! Sleep experts recommend that anyone suffering from sleep apnea should sleep with their masks on for at least 70% of the time over a 30-day period, for at least four hours per night, in order to adjust to the machine and feel the benefits. If you're still having trouble with your CPAP machine or you find that the side effects (like dryness and irritation) are worsening, make sure to talk to your doctor about other treatment options.

Now we're turning to our readers for some help. If you've tried out a CPAP mask, what problems did you encounter? What tips would you give to other first-time users? We'd love to hear any feedback, advice, or questions you may have!