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Find Out the Best CPAP Tips for Beginners

There are a lot of people in the world who use a continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP, machine to help them sleep every night. These machines increase the air pressure in the patient’s throat so that the airway won't collapse while breathing in. These machines are designed to alleviate discomfort and snoring, which helps you (and anyone sharing the bed with you) sleep better every night.

It can be hard to get used to sleeping with a CPAP mask every night, though. This means a lot of beginners either take it off in the middle of the night or “conveniently” forget to put it on before going to sleep. Don’t give into these temptations. The benefits of a good night’s sleep are worth getting used to the machine.

Mask Basics

There are several different forms of CPAP masks, including the following:

Prongs that fit into your nose

NCPAP – nasal continuous positive airway pressure – only covers the nose and is the most common mask used

A full mask that covers the mouth and nose

These masks and machines take some adjustment to get used to wearing them, but if you find that one style just isn't working, you can always try a different one.

Everyone has a different face shape or size, so it’s rarely a case of one-size-fits-all. On the bright side, there are different options available, including mask inserts, that help you get a better seal so that there are no leaks or make it fit more comfortably on your face.

Keep in mind that no matter what face shape you have, you can find a mask that fits. No mask should cause any kind of skin irritation from being too tight.

Also note masks are also going to fit differently when you are sitting, standing, or lying down. The only dependable fitting you can trust is the one where you are laying down, since you will wear it while you are sleeping.

To put the mask on properly, loosen the straps and pull a little at a time until you get a good seal. As soon as it seals, you are good to go, so don't tighten it any more. If you are over-tightening it, you are going to be very uncomfortable which ruins the whole point of using the mask in the first place.

Time to Adjust

Most people struggle at the beginning to adjust to wearing and sleeping with a mask. Remember to allow time to give yourself time to adjust. The results far outweigh the first couple nights of bade rest. There are some basic tips that can make all the difference during this phase:

  • Go to bed tired.
  • Use the ramp technique. Some machines come with a setting that increases the pressure slowly so it is eventually working full strength, just not when you are trying to fall asleep.
  • Wear the mask around at night while you go through your bedtime routine. This removes some of the shock of putting it on at night.
  • Stick to a bedtime routine.
  • Be consistent – put is on every night. It is hard to get used to something you are only putting on once a week.

Some people also complain about having a dry, stuffy nose from their machine. If this is the case, ask your doctor if using a device that has a heater humidifier attached to the air pressure machine is right for you. This means you can adjust the level of humidity to your liking. If this still isn’t enough, try a nasal saline spray at bedtime.

Even if you suffer from claustrophobia, you can eventually get used to the machine. Wearing your mask and hose around before bed is still the best tip, but you should also try doing some relaxation exercises while you lie in bed. One effective routine is progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense and relax each muscle group from head to toe. If none of this works, try a different size or style to see if it helps with your stress.

Give it Time

The best tip for veteran users to beginners is keep at it. The bad sleep that you get without the machine is so much worse than getting used to the mask. Once you adjust and are sleeping soundly, you will wonder how you ever did without the machine.