How to Improve Your AHI Score Overnight

December 01, 2020 | CPAP Tips & Tutorials |
Understanding CPAP readings can help improve therapy

Even when you are fully compliant with your CPAP therapy, you may notice over time that the frequency of your apneas may get worse. This can be frustrating when you have done all that you can to manage your sleep apnea. But there are some simple tips you can follow that can bring down your AHI score overnight. 

What is AHI? 

AHI, or apnea hypopnea index, is the number of apneas you experience per hour while you sleep. The AHI is used as a guide by sleep doctors to measure the severity of your sleep apnea. Your AHI will ultimately determine the pressure settings on your CPAP machine to minimize the frequency of apnea episodes.

How is AHI Measured? 

When being tested for sleep apnea, this score is determined by a polysomnography test (PST). This test measures the number of paused breathing events, as well as the number of shallow breathing events and calculates them to determine your AHI.

During CPAP therapy, your CPAP machine will sense these events and record them to provide insight into whether or not your therapy is working.

What is the Ideal AHI Number? 

  • An AHI score under 5 is considered normal. That means you experience fewer than five apnea events per hour
  • A score of 5-15 indicates mild sleep apnea
  • Moderate sleep apnea is determined by an AHI score of 15-30
  • AHI scores of 30 apnea events or more per hour indicate severe sleep apnea

How to Reduce Your AHI Score

While minor fluctuations in your AHI are normal, a consistent increase in the number of apnea events per hour is not. Review our list of tips and suggestions for improving your AHI score below. If these don’t help, you may want to speak to your sleep doctor about adjusting your CPAP pressure settings. 

Change Your Sleeping Position

Laying in the supine position, (i.e., on your back) is one of the most popular ways to sleep. It is also one of the most common positions in which apneas occur. By changing your sleeping position and simply turning on your side, you may bring down your AHI score without having to change pressure settings or equipment.

Replace Your Mask Cushion and Headgear

Worn out equipment, such as mask cushions and headgear may be to blame for a higher AHI. Headgear straps get stretched out and cushions lose their ability to keep a secure seal over time. This normal wear and tear will contribute to leaks, which reduce pressure and make your CPAP therapy less effective. 

Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for replacing headgear and mask cushions.

Replace Your CPAP Mask

If you continue to see an increase in your AHI score after replacing worn out mask parts, it may be time to try a new mask. On average, it can take individuals 3 or 4 attempts to find the CPAP mask that works best for them. Using your first mask just because it is the only one you know may not be best for your therapy needs. Try experimenting with various other masks to see if they help improve your AHI. 

Conclusion

A low AHI score means that your CPAP therapy is effective. Keeping that score low, however, may depend on a number of different factors. Use this list and monitor your sleep data to look for improvements. If you are still struggling, it may be time to contact your doctor about changing your prescribed pressure setting.

If you have questions about replacement CPAP equipment, speak with our knowledgeable customer care team. They are here to help. Give us a call at 866-414-9700 or email us at questions@thecpapshop.com.

Chris Vasta CPAP Expert & President at The CPAP Shop

Author

Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…


9 Comments Leave new

  • Jane Moreau

    My husband has been on a cpap machine for years. It’s now 25 air pressure, is just about sitting straight up in bed and still has 13 to 19 events a night. Is it time to talk about surgery? Poor guy!

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Jane, we’re sorry to hear this. We recommend consulting with his doctor for this matter as they know your husband’s health and well-being best. You can reach out to our customer service team at 866-414-7900 if you ever have any questions regarding his CPAP machine or accessories.

  • Ken

    Just over the last 8 days my events per night have gone from under 10 to 40. What can cause this?
    And yes- I have reached out to my doctor about this. Waiting to hear back.
    Thanks

    • Chris Vasta

      Hi Ken, consulting with your doctor is the best approach for this matter as they know your health and well-being the most. Please feel free to call our customer service team at 866-414-7900 if you have any questions regarding your CPAP machine or accessories.

  • caroline peppers

    Using cpap for 6 months. Last night it was 17 events per hour for little over 8 hours. Is this a concern that we should discuss with Doctor?

    • Chris Vasta

      A score of 5-15 indicates mild sleep apnea, and moderate sleep apnea is determined by an AHI score of 15-30. Therefore, it does not seem like you need to be worried. However, with that being said if you are concerned still, please reach out to your treating physician.

  • C D Bobs

    I use nose pillows and chin strap with Resmed Airsense. My report shows good seal and humidity but I am getting 44 events. How can I reduce events? Air pressure is 9.

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