man wearing nasal cpap mask with hose attached

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Benefits for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

An estimated 54 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.1 The most common treatment has always been PAP (positive airway pressure) to help reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of sleep and overall health. Now new research reveals that as little as two hours of PAP therapy had health benefits for obstructive sleep apnea patients.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep. When throat muscles overrelax during sleep they close up the airway and cause the disrupted breathing. This frequent disruption of natural sleep can affect your health both mentally and physically.

Some risk factors for sleep apnea are age and obesity. Some symptoms include loud snoring and not feeling refreshed even after a full night's sleep.

What is Positive Airway Pressure?

Positive airway pressure or PAP is the typical treatment method for OSA. A CPAP machine flows pressurized air through a tube and into the mask of the patient as they sleep. The constant air pressure keeps the airway open and prevents the disruptive events that cause sleep apnea episodes and interrupt healthy sleep. This results in CPAP users waking up feeling more refreshed, alert, and ready for the day ahead.

How Long Should OSA Patients Use PAP Per Night?

Most OSA patients would use their CPAP machines and entire night while they sleep to prevent apneas. But a recent study2 shows that only two hours of PAP led to sleep improvements among patients using CPAP therapy. In addition, increased time spent with CPAP greatly reduced other medical issues related to hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Over the two year study each additional hour of nightly PAP use reduced:

  • Hospitalizations by 5.0%
  • ER visits by 4.4%

What CPAP Machines Are Best for Therapy?

CPAP machines offer varied features that help patients practice CPAP more comfortably.

What Other Options Can Help OSA Patients?

Along with using CPAP therapy to reduce sleep apnea symptoms patients can also make healthy lifestyle changes to help with sleep apnea that include:

  • Reduced alcohol consumption
  • Stopping smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule

How Do You Know if You Have OSA?

You may have sleep apnea if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping for air in the middle of the night
  • Morning headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

If any of these symptoms feel familiar to you, it's best to speak to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. In-lab sleep studies are one way to test for sleep apnea. In-lab studies require an overnight stay in a sleep lab to be evaluated.

For convenience, you can also take a sleep apnea test at home. Sleep Care Online offers at-home sleep tests that deliver the same accurate results as in-lab tests, but in the comfort of your own home. Get a diagnosis with a home sleep test today.

Do You Need a Prescription for PAP?

You will need a prescription from your doctor once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. The prescription determines the appropriate settings for your CPAP machine based on the severity of your OSA. Your doctor may also recommend the type of CPAP machine that is best for treatment.

Where Can You Find CPAP Machines?

You can find all four types of CPAP machines mentioned above at The CPAP Shop. We feature products from all the top brands like ResMed, Fisher & Paykel, and Philips Respironics. Our knowledgeable staff can help you select the CPAP machine that best fits your therapy needs. Give us a call at 866-414-9700.


  1.  Benjafield AV et al. Lancet Resp Med 2019
  2.  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.