How to Ensure CPAP Therapy Works for You
Managing the dangerous symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea is important, not for better rest, but for your health. However, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine can be daunting at first.
Sleep apnea is a growing problem and the effects of living with this condition can be serious, even deadly. Today, treatment for sleep apnea can be extremely effective, but patients have to be committed. Unfortunately, many find it challenging to sleep with a CPAP device at first. Even patients who have used it for years can find it difficult to stick with the therapy.
To help you ensure treatment success, and improve your long-term health, we have listed some tips on how to use CPAP machines in the most effective way. We also share some advice for dealing with the most common complaints about CPAP devices.
Advantages of CPAP Therapy Compliance
Using a CPAP machine counteracts obstructive sleep apnea with a strong, continuous flow of oxygen while the person sleeps. Successful therapy eliminates apneas, or periods without breathing, and provides more restful sleep. Using the device correctly and sticking with it every night should help patients:
- Improve snoring,
- Feel well-rested and more energized during the day,
- Alleviate morning headaches,
- Focus more clearly at work and school,
- Get more uninterrupted sleep,
- Decrease related health symptoms and risks.
5 Tips for CPAP Therapy Success
Patients can improve their own chances for success with sleep apnea treatment with a few simple modifications and helpful tricks.
1. Get Comfortable with the CPAP Device.
Give yourself time to get used to wearing the mask and using the CPAP machine. Think about how you can gradually incorporate the equipment into your daily habits. Some patients like to start by wearing the mask while they are awake, using the device during the day, or while winding down before bed. If it feels strange at first, try putting it on while watching TV or reading a book and allow yourself to relax before sleep.
2. Set up a Nightly Routine.
To successfully treat the symptoms of sleep apnea – and reduce health risks associated with it – patients need to use the CPAP machine every time they sleep. This is called full compliance and, yes, this includes naps. By making CPAP therapy part of your routine, you will get used to using it faster, and notice it less. Help yourself remember this important step by putting on the mask after another part of your bedtime routine, such as brushing your teeth.
Get more helpful advice here: Find the Best Sleeping Position for Managing Sleep Apnea Symptoms.
3. Make Sure the Mask Fits Well.
There are three main styles of CPAP masks, so ask your machine provider to help you find the best one for your needs:
- Nasal pillow – This is designed so that the tubing rests just below the nostrils. Patients appreciate the fact that it is unobtrusive and can be worn with glasses.
- Nasal mask – This provides better coverage of the nasal passages, yet is lighter and smaller than a face mask.
- Face mask – This type of mask covers both the nose and mouth, which is recommended for those who tend to breathe through the mouth.
We advise people to get fitted for a CPAP mask. This is because, if it does not seal around the airway, using the CPAP device becomes uncomfortable and less effective.
Once you have the right type of mask, adjust the straps regularly to ensure that it is positioned properly. For best results, do this while lying down.
4. Find the Right Pressure Setting.
The ramp function on the CPAP machine makes it easy to find the optimal pressure setting. This feature automatically starts by delivering a low level of air pressure. Then, it gradually increases the pressure level as you fall asleep.
5. Take Care of the Equipment.
Keeping your CPAP mask and hose clean will help ensure that the machine works properly. Plus, it can help you to stick with the treatment plan, because nobody likes to use a device that smells musty.
Quick Fixes to Common Problems with CPAP Therapy
These are the responses that we provide to patients’ most common questions and challenges with CPAP therapy.
“It makes me feel claustrophobic.”
If you feel anxiety while wearing the CPAP mask, we recommend desensitizing techniques. Try holding it in front of your face for a period. Give yourself time to relax and become used to the air pressure before putting on the mask.
“I can’t fall asleep.”
It important to be tired in order to fall asleep when using a CPAP machine. While you are first getting comfortable with the therapy, try to avoid taking naps during the day. Relaxation techniques can also help CPAP users to calm their body and mind and essentially fall asleep faster. Meditation and visualization can be powerful tools for success.
“The noise bothers me.”
You may just need to exchange your CPAP machine for a newer model. They have become much quieter in recent years. If the noise still annoys you, consider putting in earplugs, turning on some white noise, or listening to some soft music before falling asleep. You may also be able to get longer tubing in order to move the CPAP machine farther away from your bed.
“The straps are uncomfortable and rub my face.”
Sometimes tight straps can irritate the skin or leave red marks on your face. Consider adding CPAP strap covers to make wearing the mask more comfortable.
“It makes me congested.”
Sometimes CPAP treatment can cause nasal or sinus congestion. Usually, this problem can be resolved with an over-the-counter saline nasal spray.
“I wake up with a dry throat.”
It’s not uncommon for sleep apnea patients to complain about a dry throat, mouth, or nasal passages with CPAP therapy. Adjustable humidifiers are available; they are effective at adding the right amount of moisture and relieving the dry feeling.
“The mask is leaky.”
Air leaking out of the mask can be a sign of a few different problems. It may be resolved by simply adjusting the straps and pads for a better fit. If you notice that your eyes are watering, it may indicate that the mask is positioned incorrectly. If it is too high on the bridge of the nose, for example, the air will flow towards your eyes rather than into the airway.
Ask your supplier for help; you may need to switch to a different size mask or a different type of mask for a better fit.
Related article: Overcoming Obstacles to Life-Saving Sleep Apnea Treatment.
Sleep Health Solutions Is Here to Help
If you are struggling with a sleep disorder or sticking with sleep apnea therapy, Sleep Health Solutions can help. We provide clinical sleep testing, at-home sleep testing, and tailored sleep coaching to help patients with CPAP therapy compliance. Reach out for assistance; call Sleep Health Solutions in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio at (330) 923-0228 or request a consultation through the website.