Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

Find a Center
Use the following fields to locate sleep centers in your area.

Search radius:

Tips for CPAP

It may take some time for you to become comfortable with using CPAP. Follow these tips to improve your quality of sleep with CPAP:

Begin using your CPAP for short periods of time during the day while you watch TV or read

This will help you get used to wearing your mask. It will feel more natural when you are trying to fall asleep.

Make CPAP part of your bedtime routine.

Use CPAP every night and for every nap. Using CPAP less often reduces its health benefits and makes it more difficult for your body to adjust to the therapy.

Make small adjustments to increase your level of comfort

Adjust your mask, tubing straps and headgear until you get the fit right. You can also try using a special bed pillow that is shaped for a PAP mask and/or hose.

Make sure your mask is a good fit. The most common problems with CPAP occur when the mask does not fit properly.

If the mask is too big, the straps holding it to your face will need to be pulled tightly. This may irritate your skin or lead to sores as the straps rub against your face. A mask that is too small will not seal properly and air will leak out through the edges. The air may blow into your eyes. If you are having either problem, you may need a different mask or headgear.

If the pressure feels too high as you are trying to fall asleep, use the “ramp” mode on your CPAP unit

Ramp mode will start your device on a low pressure setting and gradually increases the pressure over time. You should be able to fall asleep before the air pressure reaches its proper level.

Use a saline nasal spray to ease mild nasal congestion

Nasal congestion can be a problem with CPAP treatment. A nasal spray or decongestant can help with nasal or sinus congestion.

Use a humidifier if you have a dry mouth, throat or nose

Some CPAP devices have heated humidifiers, which are chambers filled with water on a heater-plate. This feature ensures that you are breathing warm, moist air through your mask. If you are using a heated humidifier and the tubing fills with water, turn down the heat on the humidifier and keep the PAP machine at a level lower than your head.

Place foam under your CPAP machine to dampen the sound

This may help if you find the sound of the CPAP machine to be annoying. A mouse pad also works great as a noise dampener.

Schedule a regular time to clean your equipment

Clean your mask, tubing and headgear once a week. Put this time in your schedule so that you don’t forget to do it.

If you are having problems remembering to use your CPAP every night, find someone to help

Considering joining a support group or asking someone you trust to hold you accountable for using your CPAP.

If these adjustments do not work, consult your board-certified sleep medicine physician.

You may need a different mask or device or you may need the air pressure adjusted. Some patients may also benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy. This can help you identify and overcome what is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep with CPAP.  

If you think you may have sleep apnea or need CPAP, find a board certified sleep medicine physician at an American Academy of Sleep Medicine Accredited Sleep Center near you.

« return to Variations