Better CPAP Therapy Tips

We surveyed 222 compliant CPAP users to find out what advice they have for people who are new to CPAP therapy.  We compiled all their responses and the result is this post outlining the top tips for better CPAP therapy tips from real CPAP users who have been successfully compliant for at least a year.

The Top Two Most Common CPAP  Therapy Tips are:

The number one piece of advice seasoned CPAP users have for those beginning therapy is to stick with it. It’s important to be patient and use your CPAP consistently.  It takes time to get comfortable with therapy, but you will begin to realize how well it works.

The second most common piece of advice given is to find the right equipment especially the proper mask. This could mean finding the mask's proper size and style,  or finding the mask that accommodates mouth-breathers, side sleepers, those with allergies, etc. It could also mean using cushions and liners to improve comfort, eliminate leaks, and ultimately improve the therapy’s effectiveness.

Top CPAP Therapy Tips On Getting Used to the CPAP Mask:

We've written previous posts on CPAP Mask Tips alone because it is such an important aspect of comfortable CPAP therapy. With any change in routine, getting used to something different takes adjusting. In order to get familiar with wearing the CPAP, some suggest wearing it while you relax while reading or watching TV. Others recommend using it whenever you lay down for a nap or even to rest for 20 minutes. It was also suggested that you put on the mask 10 to 15 minutes prior to going to sleep. The reason for this was twofold; so that you don’t inadvertently nod off before you put it on and to give your body a little bit more time to get used to it before falling asleep.

Additionally, a handful of survey participants advised new CPAP users to adjust their thinking. Adopting a positive attitude goes a long way during the adjustment phase. Moreover, focusing on the benefits of a better quality of life certainly is a motivator.

Top CPAP Therapy Tips - You and Your Sleep Therapist:

Communicating with your equipment provider or healthcare professional is key. Talk to knowledgeable people about the different types of CPAP machines and equipment available in conjunction with your sleep habits (Are you a mouth breather? Do you like to sleep on your side? Etc.). This will help you find the necessary equipment which will make the transition smoother and more comfortable.

Furthermore, knowledge is power and education makes a difference. Make sure to fully understand what sleep apnea is and how it impacts the quality of life. Continuously review your progress with the new apps which provide you a significant amount of information.

Additional CPAP Therapy Tips and Advice:

Almost all our participants suggested that CPAP users follow the CPAP instructions on keeping the mask, tubing, water chamber and CPAP machine filters clean and working properly.  This improves functionality and reduces the likelihood that you’ll get a sinus or other infection.

Other suggested help for active sleepers. Routing the CPAP hose over the headboard of your bed might allow you to roll over more unencumbered.

A humidifier can help prevent your nasal passages from drying out. A glass of water and some saline spray by the bed are also useful.

Replace parts as suggested. Components of your CPAP mask will wear out with use. Worn out parts can cause leaks and cause masks to be very uncomfortable making therapy less effective. When you tighten the mask too much, it’s time for a new cushion and headgear. Keep tubing is good working order with a spare ready to go in case of a tear.

Summary of Top CPAP Therapy Tips

Most people benefit dramatically from the use of CPAP that the transition from non-CPAP to CPAP has become much easier as technology progresses. However, some find the transition to be challenging, especially when trying to find the perfect equipment. Nevertheless, our users are very resilient and resourceful and understand the benefits far outweigh the negatives especially when quality of life issues are at hand. We’ve compiled some tips from our veteran CPAP users to help newcomers to the therapy get a better night’s sleep.

CPAP Tips:

  • Keep Calm and CPAP - Learning to relax while beginning your CPAP use is a wise first step. Don’t expect miracles overnight. Many first time users find that short sessions are easier to manage in the beginning of therapy. Many people get used to their mask by napping with your CPAP or wearing it while you watch TV or read.  Establishing a bedtime routine also helps to prepare your mind which then becomes a natural habit. Think of an NBA player shooting a free throw the same way thousands of times. It becomes so natural that to not do it becomes unnatural. Also, keep in mind the importance of using the CPAP every time you sleep. Know that once you get past the challenges, the quality of life and health dramatically improves.
  • Clean, Clean, Clean! - Do you best with cleaning your CPAP equipment especially where your mask touches your face or there is water or humidification. Mask cushions should be cleaned daily along with CPAP tubing. Tubing should also be cleaned a couple of times a week at a minimum. Both of these areas can quickly build up germs, bacteria, mold, and mildew because of perspiration and humidification. That can contribute to lung and upper respiratory issues. Cleaning the water chamber need to also be done frequently and many can just be put into the dishwasher as long as the rubber gasket is not still in there.
  • Sleep Comfortably - Adjusting how you sleep and where the CPAP tube resides on the bed also can make a difference in comfort.  A CPAP tube can sometimes get in the way especially if you typically toss and turn during sleep. If that is the case, you may want to purchase a pillow specifically designed for sleeping with CPAP like this one. Also, there is a hose lift system which can help to keep the CPAP tube above your head and allow for moving from side to side.
  • Try it and you might like it - Utilize all the functionality of your CPAP machine especially if it's new and offers plenty of technology. WiFi compatible, data reports, ramp feature, auto-adjusting, and heated tubing all help to increase comfort and improve compliance. CPAP masks are lighter, more effective and significantly more comfortable. Falling asleep and staying asleep without an apnea interruption is key. Use everything at your disposal to meet that goal.
  • Humidify so you don’t dry - Using humidification is another way to improve usability and comfort. If warm air doesn’t suit you, turn the temperature off so its room temperature. Whatever the temperature, humidification will help keep your nasal passages and throat moist and reduce potential infections or colds.

BONUS NOTE - Finding a mask that works for you and is comfortable has always been one of the biggest CPAP challenges. Getting used to sleeping with a mask takes an adjustment just like anything else. It’s not uncommon for new CPAP users to try a few different styles or designs before they find one that fits correctly and is most comfortable. Try to keep the goal in mind. Remember that you are the buyer so ask questions, become knowledgeable, and try different styles.  There are also accessories such as CPAP strap covers which can help eliminate skin irritation or discomfort. Know that if a mask is too big, it will leak, if a mask is too small it will be uncomfortable. So try different styles and sizes until you have found one which meets your needs.

Finally, a few extra tips to help you become a CPAP pro.

Tips for a general better night’s sleep:

  • Try to stay on a schedule – even on the weekends – where you go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
  • Limit naps to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
  • If you feel like you might fall asleep on the couch, get up and be active.
  • Try to spend each morning in natural sunlight.  Not only is it good for you but improves your mood. During the day, allow natural light in. If you cannot get enough natural sunshine use a light therapy box.
  • Wind down your internal clock about 2 hours before you go to bed by avoiding bright screens like laptops and cell phones.
  • Set up your bedroom for sleeping success by making it as dark, quiet and as cool as possible. Make sure your bed is comfortable, and use it only for sleeping and sex.
  • Exercise every day.
  • Cut down on caffeine.
  • Eat small meals at night, and consume food that is easy to digest. Also refrain from drinking too much after dinner so that you do not have to get up to go to the bathroom frequently.
  • Avoid alcohol at least 2 hours before going to bed.
  • Some people find that it helps them to relax before bed. They use techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualizing a safe, peaceful place.

You Can Feel Just as Good as These Seasoned CPAP Users.

While this isn’t technically advice, many survey participants shared a heap of health benefits they now experience since complying with their therapy.

  • They no longer feel fatigued and groggy. They have more energy and feel more alert.
  • A few respondents even reported no longer falling asleep uncontrollably. Not only does this save them embarrassment, but it also improves their safety while driving.
  • They have an improved ability to concentrate and think more clearly.
  • They have an improved mood. Participants noted that they no longer felt impatient all the time, and that they had a more positive attitude.
  • They have to get out of bed for fewer bathroom breaks throughout the night.
  • They have an improved diet and feel more in control of what they eat.
  • They experience fewer headaches.
  • Their blood pressure has been reduced.
  • Their spouses sleep better.
  • They no longer have acid reflex.
  • They have dreams again now that they’re able to sleep deeply enough to fall into their REM cycle.
  • They can function better on fewer hours of sleep because the sleep that they get is more solid.
  • Their immune systems are improved. Many participants reported that the amount of colds they got before CPAP therapy compared to after starting CPAP therapy is like night and day.

We hope you found these CPAP therapy tips helpful.  When our customers take the time to fill out our surveys, we are always happy with the advice and tips, from their real experiences with CPAP therapy, and we will continue to share them with you.

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.